Sunday, January 6, 2013

Samuel Adams: A Life - my review of Ira Stoll's book

Samuel Adams: A LifeSamuel Adams: A Life by Ira Stoll
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book will actually change my interpretations of Mr. Adams when I give walking tours in Boston. He looms so large in our tours yet is all but forgotten by most Americans. I was actually frustrated reading this book because I felt the author was harping too much on Adams' religious beliefs and "Puritanism". And I had to wonder, for a man who spent so much time writing (he was a journalist and politician) why his works were not drawn on more. Only at the end did I realize that he (wisely for his time and role) destroyed volumes of his correspondence.

A few changes I will make when talking about Adams to tourists: 1) He was the much more famous Adams of his time, especially in London (younger cousin John went on to be 2nd US President, but Samuel was well known to King George III and members of Parliament); 2) He was 2nd Governor of Massachusetts only because Hancock died in office - while he and Hancock were friends, the relationship was strained because of Hancock's "extravagance" vs. Adams's insistence on not taking any more than he needed to live on in his various political assignments; and 3) He did not leave Massachusetts until he traveled to Philadelphia as a member of the Continental Congress at age 51.

A very worthwhile read for anyone interested in the Founders, the Revolution, and the history of Boston.

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