Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams

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W. W. Norton & Company, 2001 - Biography & Autobiography - 277 pages
5 Reviews
John Adams, one of the Founding Fathers of our nation and its second president, spent nearly the last third of his life in retirement grappling with contradictory views of his place in history and fearing his reputation would not fare well in the generations after his death. In an incomplete autobiography, and in numerous publications and voluminous correspondence with Thomas Jefferson and many others, he argued and railed against those who disagreed with him or made little of his contribution to our country's political foundations. And indeed, future generations did slight him, elevating Jefferson and Madison to lofty heights with Washington while Adams remained way back in the second tier. Now, in a witty, clear, and thoughtful narrative of Adams's later life at his home in Quincy, Joseph Ellis explores the mind and personality of the man as well as the earlier events that shaped his thinking. Readers will discover Adams to be both contentious and lovable, generous and petty, and the most intellectually profound of the revolutionary generation, a man who may have contributed to the earlier underestimates of his role in history, and whose perspective on America's prospects has relevance for us today.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Unreachableshelf - LibraryThing

After many years and several rereadings, this remains one of my favorite books on John Adams. It is less a biography than a character study, focusing primarily on his post-presidential years and only ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - charlie2010 - LibraryThing

Ellis has done it again! Another absorbing book about one of our founding fathers. "Passionate Sage" is a very readable and fascinating exploration into Adam's complex character. Ellis explains well ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

The Education of John Adams
26
History and Heroes
57
Irreverencies and Oppositions
84
The American Dialogue
113
Erudite Effusions
143
Intimacies
174
Legacies
205
An Epilogue
233
Notes
243
Index
273
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About the author (2001)

Joseph J. Ellis is Ford Foundation Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College and author of the National Book Award-winning American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Founding Brothers, and Passionate Sage.

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