June 28, 2011
John Quincy Adams
JQA, as he reportedly liked to be called to distinguish him from his illustrious father, John Adams, the second President of the United States, is not thought to have been very successful as President. But he was a statesman, writer, diplomat, and Congressperson, as well as a professor, and "great American."
The now standard biography of JQA, first published in 1997 by Harvard University Press, is subtitled "A Public Life, A Private Life, by John C. Nagel, who died last month. A review in the NYT sums up the biography as well as the importance of JQA:
Too much of Nagel's book reads like a synopsis of irrelevant events and journeys that [JQ] Adams describes in his diaries. The reader longs for more interpretation, less chronicling. Nagel has nevertheless written the best biography of Adams between two covers. Still, John Quincy Adams has now inspired more biographies than he perhaps warrants, and it's time for historians to give the subject a rest.
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