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John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, a Private Life

John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, a Private Life


Book Overview: John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, a Private Life

Nagel probes deeply into the psyche of this cantankerous, misanthropic, erudite, hardworking son of a former president whose remarkable career spanned many offices: minister to Holland, Russia, and England, U.S. senator, secretary of state, president of the United States (1825-1829), and, finally, U.S. representative (the only ex-president to serve in the House). On the basis of a thorough study of Adams' seventy-year diary among a host of other documents, the author gives us a richer account than we have yet had of JQAs life - his passionate marriage to Louisa Johnson, his personal tragedies (two sons lost to alcoholism), his brilliant diplomacy, his recurring depression, his exasperating behavior - and shows us why in the end, only Abraham Lincoln's death evoked a greater outpouring of national sorrow in nineteenth-century America. We come to see how much Adams disliked politics and hoped for more from life than high office; how he sought distinction in literary and scientific endeavors, and drew his greatest pleasure from being a poet, critic, translator, essayist, botanist, and professor of oratory at Harvard; how tension between the public and private Adams vexed his life; and how his frustrations kept him masked and aloof (and unpopular).

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PublisherHarvard University Press
Publication Date1999-04-15
Dimensionsin x in x in
Weight lbs
Paul C. Nagel is an acclaimed scholar and biographer, revered for his rigorously researched deep-dive examination of historical figures. Born in Indiana and educated at Swarthmore College and the University of Wisconsin, he soared to academic heights early on, earning a Ph.D. in History and securing a position at University of Kentucky as a history professor, subsequently serving as vice-president at the University of Missouri. Over the course of his career, Nagel has demonstrated a prodigious writing talent, particularly in his critically commended biographies of the Adams family, which breathes life into the who's who of early American history. His many books, including "Descent from Glory" and "The Adams Women," display masterful storytelling and in-depth research, transforming complex historical events and people into understanding for readers. Although now retired, Nagel’s works continue to serve as important literary reference points and remain in print, testimony to their enduring appeal and timeless scholarship. His lifelong dedication to exploring and elucidating the historical intricacies makes him one of America's great biographers.

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