“First Family: Abigail & John Adams” is the most recent of nearly a dozen books by Joseph J. Ellis. Mr. Ellis is a Professor of History at Mount Holyoke and has written extensively on the revolutionary era and some of its most prominent figures. “First Family” is the last of a seven books in my library on John Adams, and is the only one whose focus is not principally on the former president, but on both John and his exceptional wife Abigail.
Fortunately for posterity, Abigail and John were prolific writers, exchanging more than 1,200 letters with each other and leaving historians a treasure trove of insight into their relationship and how they perceived the dynamic, revolutionary and turbulent world around them. They were no less productive in writing others as well: friends, other family members and numerous politicians of the day. Together with the diary John Adams kept, these documents provide nearly unmatched access into the lives of two important members of the revolutionary era.
Although I expected this book to be quite unique compared to previous biographies of John Adams that I’ve read, in truth it is not…
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