• John Quincy Adams

  • Militant Spirit
  • By: James Traub
  • Narrated by: Grover Gardner
  • Length: 25 hrs and 44 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (678 ratings)

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John Quincy Adams

By: James Traub
Narrated by: Grover Gardner
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Publisher's Summary

John Quincy Adams was the last of his kind - a Puritan from the age of the Founders who despised party and compromise yet dedicated himself to politics and government. The son of John Adams, he was a brilliant ambassador and secretary of state, a frustrated president at a historic turning point in American politics, and a dedicated congressman who literally died in office - at the age of 80, in the House of Representatives, in the midst of an impassioned political debate.

In John Quincy Adams, scholar and journalist James Traub draws on Adams' diary, letters, and writings to evoke a diplomat and president whose ideas remain with us today. Adams was a fierce nationalist who, as secretary of state, championed the idea of American expansion. Yet at the same time, he warned against moralistic and militaristic policies abroad - a chastening wisdom that makes him the father of what we now call "realism" in foreign policy. As president he was a bold proponent of the idea of activist government later brought to fruition by Abraham Lincoln and others.

Adams' numerous achievements - and equally numerous failures - stand as testaments to his unwavering moral convictions. A man who refused to take refuge in the politically prudent course of action, Adams was repudiated by his own Federalist party and, as president, by the nation that voted him out of office. And yet, in the final decade of his life, Adams regained the country's regard, and even reverence, for as a congressman he often stood alone against the forces of slavery, twice beating back motions of censure. John Quincy Adams tells the story of this brilliant, flinty, and unyielding man whose life exemplified political courage - a life against which each of us might measure our own.

©2016 James Traub (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about John Quincy Adams

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Best narrator of all the audio books I've listened

I thought the pacing was good and the history related in such a way as to make the moments very imaginable and personal. Whatever the narrator gets paid for his work, it's probably not enough.

12 people found this helpful

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  • 05-19-18

Outstanding American who sacrificed his personal advancement for those with less

Adams should replace Jackson on the 20 dollar bill. Outstanding story and great narration. Great American family that shaped America and provides great example for our young people.

10 people found this helpful

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spoiler

The protagonists all die, it was kind of like Rogue One in that way... but overall incredibly well written and performed book.

9 people found this helpful

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Great History of our Republic

JQ Adams insight and involvement in first 70 years of our nation is remarkable and unequalled. Thanks for providing his life story.

8 people found this helpful

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Required reading for any student of American history.

What a marvelous book about a marvelous man. I do not recall a book that I enjoyed more. Mr Traub can be very proud of his achievement.

4 people found this helpful

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Evan's Reviee

Being and History and retired teacher we have overlooked Adam. Most concentrate on his Presidentist which was bad. But what we forget his work as a Deomate. Made the first Professional Deomate in American History plus his years has a Congressman. I recommend this book to anyone to that wants to understand our into working of our history from 1774 until 1848.

4 people found this helpful

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Average President, Stellar Congressman

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Yes, but hesitantly. Adams is one of the most interesting presidents - not because of his presidency itself, which was quite average, but his entire pre- and post-presidency careers. The years in ministerial work and then all his years in Congress are unique among the presidents, and they SHOULD make for an excellent biography. But this is the first such biography I've encountered, and it fell a bit short. However, Adams is still a very interesting person to read about, and so I would still recommend this book. At least until I find a more engaging JQA biography.

What could James Traub have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Traub's writing had a tendency to stray into long stretches of dryness. It's a very common problem I've found with books on history, especially biographies. I mean, not everyone can be David McCullough or H.W. Brands. There's nothing outright bad about his writing - it was just that there are times where it feels like even he isn't engaged in the topic, and is merely relating a series of facts in order to get to the next interesting section. And in those sections, his writing got much better, with more of a storytelling flair.

Have you listened to any of Grover Gardner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes, although I can't immediately remember which book it was (I fly through these audiobooks like crazy so sometimes the details blur together). This one wasn't nearly as good. He conveyed the story effectively and there weren't any major problems, but it seemed a bit flat a majority of the time. Of course, with biographies and other historical books, there isn't a whole lot that a narrator NEEDS to do beyond simply reading the book, but a lot of the time it felt less like a book and more like a lecture. I don't know how much of that is due to Traub's writing versus Gardner's reading.

Was John Quincy Adams worth the listening time?

Yes. Minor complaints aside, JQA is still a very interesting character who spent his entire 80 years in the midst of important events. From his birth in the early days of the beginning of revolutionary spirit in Massachusetts, to his death in Congress during the heating up of the slavery debate, there are no periods of his life where nothing happened worth writing or reading about.

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Loved this book

What a remarkable man of his time. I knew virtually nothing about this man of principles. I am in awe of his discipline and intelligence. His devotion to his country and lack of greed unlike others in political offices.

2 people found this helpful

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A most underrated American Giant.

A magnificent American Giant that so few of us have learned much about. Traub brilliantly traces Quincy Adams story, from childhood to romantic student, to the country's most outstanding diplomat, followed by his statesmanship as Sec'y of State, 6th President and final 17 years as principled Congressman. And what made this biography that much more engrossing was the amazing narration by Grover Gardner. Captivating from beginning to end.

1 person found this helpful

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Unflinchingly Honest Appraisal of a Great American

This book is much more nuanced and provides a harsher appraisal of Adams than the other biography of him with which I am familiar, namely Fred Kaplan's John Quincy Adam: American Visionary. Both are excellent books that I strongly recommend to anyone interested in J.Q. Adams. This one, however, deals extensively with Adams as he affected the people and the world around him: his incredible ambition, his tenacious grasp on his principles at all cost, and his self-centeredness cost himself, his family, and sometimes even his country dearly. Yet, for all that, he was truly a great American diplomat and politician who in his later years more than redeemed himself for having had a lackluster presidency. This is an excellent book and well-performed.

1 person found this helpful

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  • michael Billington
  • 11-26-16

Wonderful biography of the 6th Us President

Where does John Quincy Adams rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of my favourites. informative and enlightening and one I would highly recommend to anyone interested not only in US history but history and biography in general.

What other book might you compare John Quincy Adams to, and why?

American Lion by Jon Meacham. it takes the listener behind the stereotype of John Quincy Adams which is that of a failed one term president and unlikable curmudgeon. The listener might not learn to love Adams but they will hopefully come away with an appreciation of his talents and his many overlooked virtues

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Hard to choose one episode but I really enjoyed the description of Adams role in the Amistad case.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

You feel for Adams in sheer misery he endured during the presidency. And the death of his children and the suffering he endured as a result was something I had not previously known much about.

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  • Omar Shubeilat
  • 06-14-22

Excellent book

I loved every second of this book. I learned a lot about the great John Quincy Adams and I wish this book was a little bit longer. the narration is second to none, Gardner is one of the best, if not the best, narrators out there, he makes you want to go on and on and always hesitate before you hit that pause button.