JOHN AND ABIGAIL ADAMS by Judith St. George

JOHN AND ABIGAIL ADAMS

An American Love Story
Age Range: 10 - 14
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KIRKUS REVIEW

As the subtitle indicates, this dual biography focuses on the remarkable marriage of one of the nation’s founders and his publicly silent but privately very vocal wife. Drawing heavily on primary source material, largely the letters of her two protagonists, both to each other and to third parties, St. George (So You Want to Be President?, 2000, etc.) crafts an engaging account of John Adams’s political and diplomatic career, while carefully highlighting Abigail’s role in it. John himself emerges as fiercely brilliant, vain, and stubborn; Abigail is witty, opinionated, and in equal parts utterly devoted to her husband and yet an independent thinker. As John works on the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, she writes, “I cannot say that I think you very generous to the Ladies, for while you are proclaiming peace and good will to Men, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over Wives.” The lead-up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence occupies slightly less than half the book; the rest details Adams’s difficult diplomatic career (during which he and Abigail were separated for years at a time), his even more difficult presidency, and finally a happy, domestic retirement. While St. George clearly holds more affection for Abigail than for John, she nevertheless works to present his later career sympathetically, sketching out the political landscape that influenced some of his more ill-considered decisions. Despite a certain breathless quality at times and the liberal use of exclamation points, this is a fine offering that presents an image of a marital partnership that was extraordinary for its time. One real drawback as a piece of nonfiction for children is that the bibliography, while extensive, includes no titles for young readers. (chronology, bibliography, Web sites, acknowledgments for archival illustrations, index) (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 2001
ISBN: 0-8234-1571-6
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Holiday House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2001




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