• John Adams

  • By: David McCullough
  • Narrated by: Nelson Runger
  • Length: 30 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 16-11-05
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.6 (35 ratings)


Pulitzer Prize, Biography/Autobiography, 2002
In this powerful, epic biography, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough unfolds the adventurous life-journey of John Adams, the brilliant, fiercely independent, often irascible, always honest Yankee patriot who spared nothing in his zeal for the American Revolution. Adams thought, wrote, and spoke out for the "Great Cause" come what might; he traveled far and wide in all seasons and often at extreme risk; he rose to become the second president of the United States and saved the country from blundering into an unnecessary war; he was rightly celebrated for his integrity, and regarded by some as "out of his senses"; and his marriage to the wise and valiant Abigail Adams is one of the most moving love stories in American history. Much about Adams' life will come as a surprise to many. His rocky relationship with friend and eventual archrival Thomas Jefferson, his courageous voyage on the frigate Boston in the winter of 1778, and his later trek over the Pyrenees are exploits few would have dared and that few listeners will ever forget.
McCullough's John Adams has the sweep and vitality of a great novel. This is history on a grand scale, an audiobook about politics, war, and social issues, but also about human nature, love, religious faith, virtue, ambition, friendship, and betrayal, and the far-reaching consequences of noble ideas. Above all, it is an enthralling, often surprising story of one of the most important and fascinating Americans who ever lived.
©2001 David McCullough (P)2001 Recorded Books, All Rights Reserved
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Critic reviews

"Brilliant...a winner." ( Publishers Weekly)
"McCullough writes to be heard as well as read." ( AudioFile)
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Regular price: £67.79

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Kirstine on 03-11-14

A great life that kept me listening

Having enjoyed listening to Benjamin Franklin’s biography (by Walter Isaacson) I chose this book to get a different slant on the birth of America as an independent country. John Adams wasn’t as colourful a character as the polymath Franklin, but he probably had a greater influence on the creation of the USA as one of the key men in writing the Declaration of Independence and in formulating the Constitution. An example, like Franklin, of a man from humble beginnings achieving greatness through his intelligence, hard work and courage. Adams dedicated his life to his country, but one has also to give much praise to Abigail, his devoted wife, who endured long absences by Adams as he travelled in Europe negotiating with the British, French and Dutch governments to try and bring peace and prosperity to his country.

While the book illustrates the epic history of the birth of a nation, it is enriched by the personal side of Adams’ life and his relationships with his family as well as with the famous people of his time. I’m often struck by the fact that the personalities and relationships among the main players quite often have a pivotal role in the direction of history. Much of the detail of these relationships is furnished by the copious amount of letters that have survived. I wonder will biographies of the future have this rich source of personal information with so much communication now being done by ephemeral e-mails and texts?

On tends to learn history at school from the point of view of ones own country so it it's educational to hear about the American War of Independence from the other side.

Though a long book the story is engaging and the narration excellent.

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6 of 7 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Ian on 17-02-16


What made the experience of listening to John Adams the most enjoyable?

Nelson Runger has a really pleasing rustic voice. Good for colonial American history.

What did you like best about this story?

John Adams. What a great person to write a readable story about. He's unbelievably prolific in his writing and straight-forwardly opinionated on every topic.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

John and Tom's Magical English Garden Tour '86

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Davis on 10-07-06

An outstanding biography

David McCullogh's biography of John Adams is an outstanding book about an outstanding man. This is one of the finest biographies I have read or listened to. By the end of the book I felt like I knew John Adams - both his outstanding strengths and his human frailties. I came away with a far better appreciation for Adams and his role in the birth of America than I had previously. The book also provides fascinating glimpses into the other strong personalities of the time, including Hamilton, Franklin and Washington, but most especially Jefferson. It is written beautifully and is so enjoyable to listen to that I was a bit sad when it ended. I strongly recommend this great work.

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171 of 181 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Christopher on 20-03-08

Expectations on a Theme

The author has carved out his niche as an historical biographer of great skill, so it is reasonable to come to expect much from him; he does not fail to deliver in this book. Having said that, this book should be judged as a journey into the soul of the subject and not an adventure or a novel - it is not and was not intended to be an edge-of-the-seat experience.

The narrator does an excellent job of portraying the various characters with just enough inflection to make the transitions comfortable and while there may be some exposure of his breathing in the reading it is not irritating. It is obvious that the narrator was "in" to the story, and we can always appreciate that!

The book itself offers the listener an intimate perspective of the Adams in a way that you certainly will not find in a text book or in the standard biography. That John Adams was one of the individuals to place their hands upon history and influence the world is beyond question, and this book offers us the opportunity to drink deeply of the character of the man, giving a clear and unobstructed view of his motives.

In an era in which the actions of the founding fathers are often called into question or are intentionally recast with less than faithful attention to the facts it is all the more important to have works like this to set the record straight. McCullough has no axe to grind, and has held himself to the unusually high standards he adopted for his previous works.

If you are seeking knowledge and wish to understand an important man and important events from the past, this book is one you will regret not experiencing. If you are seeking to be constantly entertained and to have plot and subplot move in fluid motion, perhaps you will find Patrick O'Brian's historical fiction more to your liking.

I found the book to be engaging, easy to follow, and pleasant to listen to in small or large chunks, and I believe you will too. It earned the five stars it received from me.

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68 of 77 people found this review helpful

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