"The First Family: Abigail & John Adams" by Joseph E. Ellis is not a typical biography. It derived from a wide variety of resources, but most importantly, the the well preserved documentation and correspondences of the Adams estate. These correspondences are letters written by or to Abigail or John Adams for a span of over 40 years. With such profound resources, Mr. Ellis was able to study, analyze, and provide his readers with a concise, yet informative interpretation of who John is with Abigail, vice versa and to others. He also gave us more than a glimpse of their relationship and how they complement each other as husband and wife.
I had read Mr. Ellis' "His Excellency" on George Washington, and after reading a rather dry biography on John Adams, I've decided to give "First Family" a try. I find this engaging as well, and definitely educational in many respects; such as more knowledge of John Adams' personality, his ambitions, how Abigail is truly his soulmate and simply new vocabulary (had to look it up on a dictionary). However, in terms of overall biographical aspects of a former President, let alone a Founding Father, I find that it lacks the same focus as his previous works. The relational aspect that reflects the intimacy of who John Adams (and Abigail Adams) is as human, not quasi celebrity status (as former President/Founding Father) is what drives this book. He really is a talented writer with proper and good use of drama from historical and true events to pull readers in. With that said, Mr. Ellis' deft hand in the overall pace of the book is remarkable, and does not disappoint.
Now, onward to the next presidential & first lady biography.
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