Post image for JOHN ADAMS by David McCullough

JOHN ADAMS by David McCullough

by Ethan Russell

“In the cold, nearly colorless light of a New England winter, two men on horseback traveled the coast road below Boston, heading north. A foot or more of snow covered the landscape, the remnants of a Christmas storm that had blanketed Massachusetts from one end of the province to the other. Beneath the snow, after weeks of severe cold, the ground was frozen solid to a depth of two feet. Packed ice in the road, ruts as hard as iron, made the going hazardous, and the riders, mindful of the horses, kept at a walk.

Nothing about the harsh landscape differed from other winters. Nor was there anything to distinguish the two riders, no signs of rank or title, no liveried retinue bringing up the rear. It might have been any year and they could have been anybody braving the weather for any number of reasons. Dressed as they were in heavy cloaks, their hats pulled low against the wind, they were barely distinguishable even from each other, except that the older, stouter of the two did most of the talking.

He was John Adams of Braintree and he loved to talk. He was a known talker. There were some, even among his admirers, who wished he talked less. He himself wished he talked less, and he had particular regard for those, like General Washington, who somehow managed great reserve under almost any circumstance.

John Adams was a lawyer and a farmer, a graduate of Harvard College, the husband of Abigail Smith Adams, the father of four children. He was forty years old and he was a revolutionary.”

John Adams – David McCullough

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Carl Koehler October 28, 2012 at 7:23 pm

McCullough’s opening to JOHN ADAMS suits the man perfectly: simple, plodding, forward-moving and nondescript – until he leads us to precisely where he wants us to be, in the full awareness (a warning, perhaps?) that this simple figure is anything but. “Revolutionary,” but bolstered in that posture by the obligation, the responsibility, the obligation of family and Fatherhood. A profound narrative of so much more than the man – just like Adams himself.


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