Written By: David McCullough

Narrated By: Edward Herrmann

Date: May 2001

Duration: 9 hours 0 minutes


The Pulitzer Prize–winning, bestselling biography of America’s founding father and second president that was the basis for the acclaimed HBO series, brilliantly told by master historian David McCullough.

In this powerful, epic biography, David McCullough unfolds the adventurous life journey of John Adams, the brilliant, fiercely independent, often irascible, always honest Yankee patriot who spared nothing in his zeal for the American Revolution; who rose to become the second president of the United States and saved the country from blundering into an unnecessary war; who was learned beyond all but a few and regarded by some as “out of his senses”; and whose marriage to the wise and valiant Abigail Adams is one of the moving love stories in American history.

This is history on a grand scale—a book about politics and war and social issues, but also about human nature, love, religious faith, virtue, ambition, friendship, and betrayal, and the far-reaching consequences of noble ideas. Above all, John Adams is an enthralling, often surprising story of one of the most important and fascinating Americans who ever lived.


  • Dudley Buck

    As usual, David McCullough has written another masterpiece. I have become a huge John Adams fan after listening to the unabridged audio book. He was one of the most important people of his time, and I gained a valuable insight into his life and times.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Tom

    John Adams had such an incredible life and was a driving force for the American Revolution. I enjoyed learning about all of his talents.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Anonymous

    For no reason, there were many long pauses in the reading of the book. I could hear the narrator breath through his nose while reading the book. The book is a compilation of diary entries and letters by the main characters. The author did not enhance the history with his own research about the culture, politics, activities and lifestyles the of the times.

  • Taylor Sheldon

    I just love Davids books! I've read almost all all them now! this one and 1776 being the best. just makes me adore our founding fathers so much! so happy someone took the time to share such valuable information with us.

  • Anonymous

    I thought a great book and I love this narrator. If you love biographies you should enjoy this one. Adams definitely does not get enough respect.

  • RHM

    What an outstanding portrait of a leader in the most important of times in America's brief lineage. Not only does this narration dramatically illustrate the trials that our founding fathers bore through in creating this nation, but it also serves as a critical tool in demonstrating how the political traits and fallibilites of our founders were no different than those we see today.As John Adams himself is quoted as saying, in his lifetime human nature had not changed, even though everything else around it did.....nor would it ever.

  • Anonymous

    If you are interested in American History listen to this book. McCullough does an excellent job of bringing this indispensable member of the true "Greatest Generation" to life. I opted for the abridged version, 9 discs as opposed to 30 for the unabridged. It was so informative and entertaining it made me wish I had ordered the unabridged version. If you didn't already know, it will make you realize how far we have fallen in regard to our present political leaders. In that respect in can be a bit depressing.

  • KA

    The author is clearly a big fan of John Adams...and this book seems to be intended to convince others as well. I honestly didn't know anything about John Adams before reading this book and yet very, very little was surprising or all that interesting. I was hoping the book would dimensionalize a significant figure in our nations history --- instead we are given an account of his life through rose colored glasses.

  • Anonymous

    This is an excellent review of an early period in the history and evolution of the United States. The author does an excellent job describing the relationship between John Adams and his wife, as well as the relationship between Adams and Thomas Jefferson, and how it changed sevaral times over the years. I was fascinated by the early workings of the political parties, and how the rules have changed over time (i.e. The Republican and Federalist parties each put forward a candidate; the winner became President and the loser Vice President). There is information here that is not contained in our history lessons. While I would not describe myself as a student of history, reading this book makes me want to read more historical works, and I have added several to my book shelf. Anthony

  • Fabian Janssen

    I really enjoyed this book! John and Abigail Adams were people I would like to have known personally and their part in our country's history was monumental. Excellent!

  • Laureen C

    Fabulous book! I enjoyed it immensely! Great narrator. I just can't recommend it highly enough! McCullough is a wonderful historian and brings John Adams and his family and friends to life.

  • Eric Boyce

    I was surprised a bit - I wasn't sure I would like this, but I really did. McCullough does a really good job recounting Adams' life expereiences and core beliefs...an interesting read indeed...

  • David Rubidge

    I found this to be totally dull and lifeless. After listening to David McCullough's 1776, which I found to be informative and interesting, this made me sleep. The guy had barely achieved anything and I realized I was half way through the book !! leave alone unless your dry or have trouble sleeping

  • BLW

    One of the best biographies I've read in a long time. Obviously the author recognized the importance of Mr. Adams's contributions despite Adams's lack of noteriety. Rent the book--it will restore your faith in people working for the good of the public.

  • Dennis Fahlstrom

    David McCullough makes history a special place. He weaves his books into a tapestry of facts that is a pleasure to absorb. In this wonderful recounting of John Adams life and accomplishments you really come to understand what a giant of an intellect he was to stand out above Madison, Jefferson and others in those early days of our history. I came away from this with a new respect and awe for the man and an appreciation for the poor treatment he was given by a bitter Jefferson after his succession of Washington. Adams was the right man for the right time in our history as well, keeping us out of foreign wars we could ill afford as a fledgling nation. Enjoy this one like a fine meal, like you will his other books. If you enjoyed "Truman", the "Johnstown Flood" and "A Path Between the Seas" you will love this one.

  • Thom Ramsdell

    What great insight into a wonderful man and many other founding fathers. You think politics was once genteel and has become nasty. Wrong! This is a great listen. You will end up loving John Adam's wife also.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting - I had a somewhat idyllic sense of early American history, and hearing about some of Adam's challenges made me appreciate his wisdom and sacrifice for the good of the United States.

  • Danny Skarka

    An outstanding read. This man is so under rated by history, I appreciate being introduced to him. Read dynamically and a great CD to listen too.

  • Anonymous

    While I felt this biography was generally well written, the title should have been "John Adams and How Thomas Jefferson Abused Their Friendship." The author certainly had an ax to grind against Jefferson. While McCullough freely admits that Alexander Hamilton did the most damage to Adams during his lifetime, pages and pages are devoted to original quotes from Jefferson - so much so that there is nearly as much text on Jefferson as there is on Adams. This glaring prejudice against another Founding Father mars the book.

  • Danny Wester

    Wow! What an enjoyable book. In school we often talk about Adams, but learned few details. This book was so interesting. I learned more from it than any college history class.

  • Vivian Kiraly

    A wonderful book relating both the personal and family life of John Adams, but I also learned alot about the early history of the United States of America. I enjoyed this story very much, was always anxious to hear more, and just couldn't wait for a long trip in the car to hear the next chapter.

  • Martha Daniel

    Brilliant and extremely well read, American History at it most exciting. Should be required listening as part of History studies.!

  • Anonymous

    Excellent book on Adams, an underappreciated hero of the American Revolution and successor to Washington. Well-written and full of the personal insights to Adams' relationshiop with his wife Abigail, their love and strengths carried Adams on through his trials and accomplishments.

  • Brian K

    Edward Herrmann does a great job with this. The abrigement is good and the pacing works for history audio book.

  • Linda Lamon

    This is a fantastic book. It is a great story of one of our founding fathers, but also a great love story. His love of liberty and the love of his family was a joy to read and listen to.

  • Anonymous

    Very well done. Interesting and very informative. Provides a wonderful look at Jefferson and Adams and the events leading up to, and beyond, 1776. Presents an interesting and quite favorable view of Adams and gave me a better appreciation of his role in the founding of this country. Great read for history buffs, but also for those who enjoy a good bio.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent book and very informative on the life of John Adams.

  • KD

    I have heard great things about this book and now I see why. It is an excellent book, and does a wonderful job of detailing Adams' role in the founding of the USA, as well as his friendship with T. Jefferson over the years. I highly recommend it.

  • Anonymous

    I know this book got excellent reviews, but I could not pay to the reader as I was driving -- my thoughts kept wandering. I listened to a few tracks, returned it, and took the other part off my list.

  • Joellyn Kopecky

    John Adams has been one of my two favorite presidents (the other being TR) since high school. This rich volume by McCullough justifies my feelings. This man was a giant, but as real and honest a human being as there could have been then. We are all incredibly lucky to have had him at the heart of the Revolution. (And reading this right around the Fourth of July gives it extra punch.) My only complaint? I wish it had been unabridged! I would have loved to hear the details about his first meeting with King George III as our first Ambassador to Britain...

  • John

    To say that the style of David McCullogh is anything short of extroadinary would be an understatement. His ability to deliver the elements of American History, elements which at times are tedious, in a manner that rivits the reader to the book can only be classified as genious. His absolute love affair with his wife and family is admirable displaying the passion that will make others envious. This biography reads with the speed of lightening!

  • Anonymous

    This is a very interesting book but, the voice was obnoxious after listening to all the CDs 1-9. I am glad I listened to it though because now I know what my friends are talking about when they tell me how wonderful this book is. How much they have learned about our country and their new sense of patriotism.

  • Anonymous

    Mccollough always amazes with his detailed research. This is a fascinating education in american history and well told / well read. If you're a history buff, or you enjoy non-fiction, you'll love it.

  • Glenna

    This book was outstanding starting with the a conversational biography by McCulloch and a delightful reading. I felt like I had had a visit with each person and that I had actually been a part of the start of my beloved country. Thanks.

  • Mark Kunkee

    John Adams was a true American patriot and that is what this book inspired me to be. The benifits of American history have been so diminished by an anti patriotic minority that this book was a very refreshing read. John Adams, who was so intricately involved in the founding of our country, will inspire you to appreciate and value what our founding fathers sacrificed. A must read for every American!


    One of the best books I've ever read (or listened to). I tagged along with John and his wife Abigail on their life’s journey as I drove back and forth from work and every where else for two straight weeks, and it was a thrilling ride. It was also a bittersweet good-bye as I parted with him, his family and his exciting life. For Adam, there was never any question that the hand of our Great Creator was constantly at work or that this was anything less than part of His eternal plan. And though I myself have never doubted, my skin often tingled with excitement to hear it from one who not only lived it, but was a primary instrument in its authorship. John Adams is now my favorite president. He and his wife Abigail are also my favorite American heroes. Abigail is clearly his equal. As for David McCullough, has he an equal in a historical biography? The only negative point in this book is that it was abridged. It’s simply not justified.

  • Chuck LeFebvre

    One of the best -- if not the best -- biographies I have read. Although John Adams is among the less celebrated of our founding fathers, this book opens the reader's eyes to his central role in the founding, and building, of our nation. The prose is tight and moving, giving the reader a glimpse of life in America during its fomative years, and one of the greatest largely unsung heros of a movement that changed the world forever. David McCullough's works are well worth seeking out. How he can take the dry subject of history and weave it into such a fascinating story is beyond my understanding, but the result is as enjoyable as it is memorable. As a bonus, this book could almost qualify as a biography of Thomas Jefferson; its discussion of the relationship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, which is of such poetic structure as to almost cause disbelief, is probably the book's greatest feature. My only criticism of this book is that I wish it were not abridged. I actually felt sad upon completing this book to know that it was at its end. Incidentally, I read this immediately after finishing Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation." My conclusion was that Brokaw could not have been more wrong, and his title, reader's of this work quickly learn, misses the mark by a wide margin.

John Adams

by David McCullough

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