Comfortable and Furious


David McCullough

Matt loves this guy

At last we have a popular, critically praised book that will, if there
is any justice in the universe of American history, rehabilitate the
image of one of our greatest individuals. The author has not only
written a book that reads, pleasurably, like a novel, but he has been
slavishly faithful to the written record of Adams himself, ensuring an
account that does not speculate but presents Adams as he was and should
be remembered.

Most instructive, however, was the manner in which the author placed
Adams at the top of the list in terms of his contributions to
Independence. Not only was he there at the creation, but he was
instrumental in the selection of Washington to head the army and
Jefferson to construct the Declaration of Independence. As the author
states, had his contributions been limited to those two areas, he would
be worth remembering as a great man.

As a matter of personal interest, I was struck by Adams’ written
Constitution for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In that influential
and presently ignored document, Adams gave us a blueprint of what our
nation was to become: the separation of powers, and independent
judiciary, and a strong executive. Moreover, he declared, much to the
joy of progressives everywhere, that the federal government is
duty-bound to promote education and intellectual pursuits. In an age of
increasing privatization of every aspect of our lives, such idealism is
both refreshing and bold.

Without giving away too much, let it be said that this book is, without
question, a modern masterpiece of historical biography. I came to know
Adams and the times in which he lived in a way I never thought
possible. I now have the greatest respect for John Adams, a statesman
deserving of the highest commemoration in our culture. One day,
perhaps, there will be the physical evidence in our landscape to
cherish this wonderful man from Massachusetts.