John Quincy Adams

By Harlow Giles Unger
Read by Johnny Heller

9.70 Hours 09/04/2012 unabridged
Format: Digital Download (15Tracks)
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He fought for Washington, served with Lincoln, witnessed Bunker Hill, and sounded the clarion against slavery on the eve of the Civil War. He negotiated an end to the War of 1812, engineered the annexation of Florida, and won the Supreme Court decision that freed the African captives of La Amistad. He served his nation as minister to six countries, secretary of state, senator, congressman, and president. John Quincy Adams was all of these things and more. In this masterful biography, award-winning author Harlow Giles Unger reveals Adams as a towering figure in the nation’s formative years and one of the most courageous figures in American history—which is why he ranked first in John F. Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Profiles in Courage. For this magisterial biography, Unger makes use of a little-known national treasure: John Quincy Adams’ diary, started at age ten, giving us an eye-witness account of sixty-five years of critical American history. 

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Summary

Summary

He fought for Washington, served with Lincoln, witnessed Bunker Hill, and sounded the clarion against slavery on the eve of the Civil War. He negotiated an end to the War of 1812, engineered the annexation of Florida, and won the Supreme Court decision that freed the African captives of La Amistad. He served his nation as minister to six countries, secretary of state, senator, congressman, and president.

John Quincy Adams was all of these things and more. In this masterful biography, award-winning author Harlow Giles Unger reveals Adams as a towering figure in the nation’s formative years and one of the most courageous figures in American history—which is why he ranked first in John F. Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Profiles in Courage.

For this magisterial biography, Unger makes use of a little-known national treasure: John Quincy Adams’ diary, started at age ten, giving us an eye-witness account of sixty-five years of critical American history. 

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“In Unger’s hands, Adams comes close to becoming an inspiring character…Unger makes him seem as overweeningly intelligent, clever, headstrong, insecure, brave, and insightful as he probably was.” American History
“Spare prose clarifies the overview of political complications and intricate family dynamics, revealing Adams as a historically overlooked yet key transitional figure who witnessed the birth of the nation and endured its nearly irreparable geographic squabbles of the 1840s.”  Publishers Weekly
“[An] in-depth biography. The reader comes to know John Quincy Adams intimately as a son, father, statesman, and patriot…The individuals encountered in the narrative are familiar, but—in the best tradition of David McCullough’s biographies—the pace and plotting pull readers forward even though they may know the ending. Unger makes use of many years of JQA’s diaries and expertly dissects intricate political and (potentially confusing) family relationships. In all, he succeeds in making clear why JQA was the first subject of John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage. Verdict: Unger does a masterful job. Although there are other books on John Quincy Adams, American history and political history buffs will find this stirring work irresistible.” Library Journal
“Unger’s well-presented portrait merits American-history readers’ attention.” Booklist
“A neglected president receives his due as a statesman and practical politician…A fine examination of a life, well deserving a place alongside David McCullough’s study of Adams père.” Kirkus Reviews
“Unger captures the many sides of Adams and his era in the superb John Quincy Adams…Eloquent, irritating, and fiercely committed to his work, John Quincy Adams lived an extraordinary life, and Unger tells his story convincingly in this compelling narrative.” BookPage
“[A] lively and often intimate account…John Quincy Adams is usually brushed aside in discussions of the presidents, but Unger makes a convincing argument that the presidency was only a footnote in one of the most important public careers in American history.” Asbury Park Sunday Press
“[A] compelling volume.” Federal Lawyer
“Unger’s biography of John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States, is enlightening and, with Heller’s accomplished reading, entertaining…Johnny Heller’s even pacing, perfect tone, and flawless reading make this a pleasure to listen to.”  SoundCommentary.com

Reviews

Reviews

by Nelle 9/13/2017
Overall Performance
Narration
Story

History Becomes Fascinating

I decided to listen to this book for three reasons. One is that history can be incredibly interesting when presented by an excellent writer. Another was that I had enjoyed the 2008 television miniseries about John Adams, starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney. The clincher was that the audiobook description said: “ Unger makes use of a little-known national treasure: John Quincy Adams’ diary, started at age ten, giving us an eye-witness account of sixty-five years of critical American history.” Diaries can be fascinating. I had to find out what this one was like, written by a ten-year-old, son of a founding father and future president, who witnessed the beginnings of our country and all of its changes over sixty-five years from his own very personal viewpoint. The audiobook had me hooked. Johnny Heller is a wonderful narrator, making me feel I was listening to John Quincy Adams himself. Harlow Giles Unger writes history as if it’s a gripping novel. The diary’s comments about George Washington, life in the courts of Europe, problems with his wife, and letters of encouragement from his mother and father were all interesting. One eye-opener was discovering how hard John Quincy Adams worked for abolitionists against a congress that for years stayed rigidly opposed to anything that might take free labor away from wealthy southern landholders, shouting him down whenever he tried to read letters from northerners against slavery. How Adams persisted is a high point of the book. I highly recommend this audiobook.
by Bertie Wooster 9/13/2017
Overall Performance
Narration
Story

A Perfect Balance

I usually don't listen to histories. I like reading them. Dates and names need to be checked again, pages already read need to be flipped through and reexamined and let's face it: writing of a more scholarly bent goes down better on paper than on MP3.

But I bought J Q Adams on sale, on a whim and I'm glad I did. Unger's style is perfect for audio: not so detailed and scholarly as to defy easy listening, nor so simple and straightforward as to defy the sand man. Unger keeps his narrative moving at a good pace, never lingering over the details too long, (something of a feat in a book that covers things like the Yazoo Land Fraud) yet always finding quotes that bring his cast of characters to life in your earbuds. And Johnny Heller, who I last heard reading a classic Noir thriller, does it all more than justice.

True, I probably would never have read this book. But while I'm mowing the lawn or cleaning the kitchen or riding the train to work, I love listening to it. You probably will, too.

Author

Author Bio: Harlow Giles Unger

Harlow Giles Unger, a former distinguished visiting fellow in American history at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, is a veteran journalist, broadcaster, educator, and historian. He is the author of more than twenty books, including several biographies of the Founding Fathers. He has also authored histories of the early Republic as well as numerous books on American education. He lives in New York.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction/Political Science
Runtime: 9.70
Audience: Adult
Language: English