John Quincy Adams was raised, educated, and groomed to be President, following in the footsteps of his father, John. At fourteen he was secretary to the Minister to Russia and, later, was himself Minister to the Netherlands and Prussia. He was U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, and then President for one ill-fated term. His private life showed a parallel descent. He was a poet, writer, critic, and Professor of Oratory at Harvard. He married a talented and engaging Southerner, but two of his three sons were disappointments. This polymath and troubled man, caught up in both a democratic age not to his understanding and the furies of passion, was an American lion in winter.
Nagel has set out to explore his hero's inner life...It is a story told largely from the vantage point of the subject.
Nagel offers a rich portrait of the moody and anxiety-ridden Adams...This biography remov[es] the dust from his portrait and restor[es] the glow of historical significance to his splendid and troubled life.
Paul C. Nagel focuses on the sources of Adams's curious mixture of duty and defiance...It is the character of the man, his personality, that dominates this biography...Nagel has given us a John Quincy Adams with a heart as well as a head.
Nagel clearly knows his topic inside out, and his account of Adam's eventful life--from diplomat to professor to President--is eminently readable...This book is thoroughly engaging. We glimpse a side of Adams that he preferred to keep private: his eye for the ladies, his self-lacerating depressions, his contempt for what he referred to as the 'crazy' orations of Ralph Waldo Emerson...What emerges from Nagel's book is a more fully rounded character.
- 466 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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