A brief, sharply focused biography of the mastermind behind the American colonies’ break with England, and the drive for independence.
Now that McCullough’s John Adams (2001) and Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton (2004) have removed those luminaries’ names from the list of America’s most underrated Founders, how about Samuel Adams? Former Detroit News reporter Puls acknowledges that Adams’s work was hampered by his destruction of correspondence and private papers crucial to any understanding of the man’s interior life. A pity, because by all accounts, the flesh-and-blood Samuel Adams was, with the possible exception of Tom Paine, the most accessible of all. Wholly without his cousin John Adams’s vanity, Washington’s studied presentation of self, Jefferson’s occasional smarminess or Hamilton’s defensive pride, Adams was at home and in touch with the common man. Notwithstanding the lofty phrases (many of which he penned) adorning liberty’s banner, Adams knew that real freedom required the harnessing of the masses, the crowd whose contribution to American independence might constitute, say, toting a tomahawk for the Boston Tea Party, or an ice-packed snowball for the Boston Massacre, or a musket for the Continental Army. Adams served as the ideal interlocutor between the often inchoate aspirations of the mob and the eloquent political engineering of his learned contemporaries in Massachusetts and the other colonies. Briefly a tax collector and later a failed brewer (though a contemporary popular microbrew serves as his namesake), he became the foremost agitator for American independence and its most successful backroom strategist. His jawboning, oratory and writing reconciled any number of competing agendas, all in the interest of his political goal. For most of his public life, Adams earned as much enmity from George III’s ministers as he did sincere affection from his American contemporaries.
Fully restores Adams to his rightful place as an indispensable provocateur of American liberty.