The Founding Father, John Adams, hoped that his devotion to polities would enable his descendants to pursue arts and letters. He did not anticipate that his great-grandson Henry Adams would turn to effete worship of the Chartres Virgin, as opposed to celebrating the commercial progress which other members of the family had done so much to promote. This study emphasizes the continuity between the generations; they tended to make a mediocre showing at Harvard, study law reluctantly, find a plain but rich and spirited wife, and die at an advanced age, disgusted by the untidy advances of democracy. John Quincy Adams and his son Charles Francis steadily fought slave owners' rule; the younger Adamses battled modern business power and--as opposed to the expansive cosmopolitanism of their elders--settled into an introverted misanthropy. The book itself fails to suggest any criteria by which the family's course might be judged; an Adams is an Adams is an Adams. By comparison, The Adams Chronicle (1975) by Jack Shepherd raised a few questions about the dynasty, but the books are essentially equivalent in their smooth commemoration.