Amazon.comIn the spirit of his earlier books, Alexander Hamilton: American and Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington , Richard Brookhiser produces an elegant, concise volume drawing on previous scholarship but offering a fresh perspective on four prickly generations of Adamses. Until David McCullough's John Adams became a surprise bestseller, the United States' second president and his descendants seldom had good press. Acknowledging John's essential role in the American Revolution and his son John Quincy's principled fight against slavery, contemporaries and historians nonetheless judged both men poor presidents, characterized by haughty pride and stiff-necked dislike of compromise. Charles Francis Adams, John Quincy's son, lost an almost certain chance to run for president as a Republican in 1872 by disdainfully announcing "that he would reject any nomination that had to be negotiated for;" the most famous book by Charles's son, The Education of Henry Adams (1907), implicitly blames Henry's failure to achieve the prominence of his forefathers on the loss of meaning and coherence in the modern, fragmented world. Tracing the lives and careers of these four men, Brookhiser strikes a balance between their struggles with a daunting heritage and battles with the often unappreciative outer world, identifying "the constant companion of the Adamses" as "the idea of greatness. Am I as great as my ancestors? As great as my contemporaries? Why doesn't theworld recognize my greatness? " This proves a sensible organizing principle for his graceful reappraisal of a well-known but not often well-understood family. --Wendy Smith Book Description
They were America's longest lasting dynasty, the closest thing to a royal family our nation has ever known. The Adamses played a leading role in America's affairs for nearly two centuries -- from John, the self-taught lawyer who rose to the highest office in the government he helped to create; to John Quincy, the child prodigy who followed his father to the White House and fought slavery in Congress; to Charles Francis, the Civil War diplomat; to Henry, the brilliant scholar and journalist. Indeed, the history of the Adams family can be read as the history of America itself. For when the Adamses "looked at their past, they saw the nation's," writes author Richard Brookhiser. "When they looked at the nation's past, they saw themselves."
America's First Dynasty charts the family's travels throughAmerican history along with an impressive cast of characters, among them George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Theodore Roosevelt. Brookhiser also details the darker side of the Adams experience, from the specters of alcoholism and suicide to the crushing burden of performance passed on from father to son. Yet by putting a human face on this legendary family, Brookhiser succeeds in creating an impassioned, heroic family portrait that the American public is not likely to forget.
Download Description"Richard Brookhiser has won a wide and loyal following for his stylish, pointed, and elegant biographies of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. In America's First Dynasty, Brookhiser tells the story of America's longest and still greatest dynasty -- the Adamses, the only family in our history to play a leading role in American affairs for nearly two centuries. From John, the self-made, tough-minded lawyer who rose to the highest office in the government he helped create; to John Quincy, the child prodigy who grew up amid foreign royalty, followed his father to the White House, and later reinvented himself as a champion of liberty in Congress; to politician and writer Charles Francis, the only well-balanced Adams; to Henry, brilliant scholar and journalist -- the Adamses achieved longer-lasting greatness than any other American family. Brookhiser's canvass starts in colonial America, when John Adams had to teach himself the law and ride on horseback for miles to find clients. It does not end until after the Titanic sinks -- Henry had booked a room but changed his plans -- and World War I begins, with Henry near the action in France. The story of this single family offers a short course in the nation's history, because for nearly two hundred years Adams history was American history. The Adamses were accompanied by an impressive cast of characters, from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, to Andrew Jackson and Ulysses Grant, to Teddy Roosevelt. America's First Dynasty offers telling portraits of the great men of our past, and many of the women around them. John and Abigail's great love affair was destined to be repeated by their offspring and offspring's offspring.