Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

Friends Divided John Adams and Thomas Jefferson From the great historian of the American Revolution New York Times bestselling and Pulitzer winning Gordon Wood comes a majestic dual biography of two of America s most enduringly fascinating figure

  • Title: Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson
  • Author: Gordon S. Wood
  • ISBN: 9780735224711
  • Page: 451
  • Format: Hardcover
  • From the great historian of the American Revolution, New York Times bestselling and Pulitzer winning Gordon Wood, comes a majestic dual biography of two of America s most enduringly fascinating figures, whose partnership helped birth a nation, and whose subsequent falling out did much to fix its course.Thomas Jefferson and John Adams could scarcely have come from diffFrom the great historian of the American Revolution, New York Times bestselling and Pulitzer winning Gordon Wood, comes a majestic dual biography of two of America s most enduringly fascinating figures, whose partnership helped birth a nation, and whose subsequent falling out did much to fix its course.Thomas Jefferson and John Adams could scarcely have come from different worlds, or been different in temperament Jefferson, the optimist with enough faith in the innate goodness of his fellow man to be democracy s champion, was an aristocratic Southern slaveowner, while Adams, the overachiever from New England s rising middling classes, painfully aware he was no aristocrat, was a skeptic about popular rule and a defender of a elitist view of government They worked closely in the crucible of revolution, crafting the Declaration of Independence and leading, with Franklin, the diplomatic effort that brought France into the fight But ultimately, their profound differences would lead to a fundamental crisis, in their friendship and in the nation writ large, as they became the figureheads of two entirely new forces, the first American political parties It was a bitter breach, lasting through the presidential administrations of both men, and beyond But late in life, something remarkable happened these two men were nudged into reconciliation What started as a grudging trickle of correspondence became a great flood, and a friendship was rekindled, over the course of hundreds of letters In their final years they were the last surviving founding fathers and cherished their role in this mighty young republic as it approached the half century mark in 1826 At last, on the afternoon of July 4th, 50 years to the day after the signing of the Declaration, Adams let out a sigh and said, At least Jefferson still lives He died soon thereafter In fact, a few hours earlier on that same day, far to the south in his home in Monticello, Jefferson died as well Arguably no relationship in this country s history carries as much freight as that of John Adams of Massachusetts and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia Gordon Wood has than done justice to these entwined lives and their meaning he has written a magnificent new addition to America s collective story.

    One thought on “Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson”

    1. I have a reverential devotion to the history of our founding and to the people involved in that undertaking. The more I read and learn about that era and about those engaged in that endeavor the more I am struck by their humanness and thus am further impressed with how difficult and dangerous our founding really was. While it is easy to revere Washington I have found the characters of Adams, Jefferson, and Hamilton to be more interesting and identifiable as real people with real virtues and real [...]

    2. This is a double biography that recounts the lives of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. It also recounts the creation of the republic. This is primarily a book about ideas as represented by two of the founding fathers. I enjoyed this book immensely. The author has a variety of topics and goes back and forth between the viewpoints of Adams and Jefferson. I learned a lot about both men as well as a good review of the founding of this country.These two men, more so than other presidents, could be ca [...]

    3. On July 4, 1826, 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia, two men died. One, Thomas Jefferson, died at Monticello in Virginia, while the other, John Adams, died far away in Boston. Both men had been presidents of the United States, and since the country was not in the instant communication we have today, neither man knew of the other's impending death. In his superb new history, "Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson", Gordon Wood takes a detailed loo [...]

    4. Like Churchill and Orwell this awesome duel biography highlights not only both men's journeys, but illustrates how they became who they were because of their relationship.Although these founding fathers loathed each other - for having opposing personalities and political affiliation, but as they formed the country, they also formed a deeper understanding and appreciation for each other.If we could have more driven focus and tolerance today, we might also better understand how looking in the past [...]

    5. This book details the relationship, both personal and political, between two or our most famous founding fathers, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. These two men came from different backgrounds and differing political views, but were close friends during the early days of the American Revolution. However, their differences led to a bitter rivalry and the end of their friendship, epitomized by the election of 1800, perhaps the most nasty and divisive presidential election in the history of our nat [...]

    6. This book provides both a side by comparison of Adams and Jefferson's views on a wide range of topics as well as an examination of their friendship, which is interesting in and of itself. However, while Wood has in no way provided any commentary on the politics of today, it seemed written with an eye towards some of the current challenges to democracy underway. I think it could have been a bit more succinct, as Wood frequently tells you what someone thought in his own words and then uses their q [...]

    7. The book dragged a bit, but I found it gave me some insight on both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. His opinions on both Adams and Jefferson at times came through the book and made me question some of his opinions, but interesting nonetheless

    8. This book helps to humanize these two major American Revolution players, as well as add perspective when anyone tries to appropriate their views to what's happening today. Well researched and written, a joy to read and ponder.

    9. Wood sees the world through the point of view of his two great men. That's good most of the time, but it renders him tone deaf at others. His comment in the first few pages that being a gentleman or commoner was more important in the 18th century than being slave or free haunted me for the remainder of the book. I cannot imagine that a woman held in slavery, raped by her master and then forced to watch her children sold away from her, would agree.

    10. So I fortunate enough to win the historical book Friends Divided in the giveaway. This book was excellent from front to back. Gordon S. Wood does an amazing job of covering the important details and thoughts of both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams during such events as the American Revolution, French Revolution, the Presidencies of both men, and their lives after politics. Wood I felt was fair in keeping a balance of the two men, and did not show favoritism toward one rather than the other. In [...]

    11. When I saw this book I groaned, because I realized I would need to add it to the list of Gordon Wood books I wanted to read, when I thought I was making good progress on that list. This book only confirms my admiration for this great historian. Wood is a great writer and a superb historian who manages to open up new perspectives on topics that seem to be exhausted. This book is essentially a dual biography of Jefferson and Adams, organized more around themes and roughly in chronological order. I [...]

    12. This was really an interesting book, fascinating really! It's an easy-ish read for history and very helpful in understanding the time and legacy of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, two very key players in the American Revolution and the history of the United States after that. They were friends most of their life, although there was a period of eleven years (just after Jefferson beat Adams in the election of 1800) where they did not talk at all. They finally reconciled their differences before t [...]

    13. Gordon Wood is the preeminent historian on the American Revolutionary War period and the author of "Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815," which is the official installment in the Oxford History of the United States on this historical period. "Empire" is a good read; but it is 800 pages and, at times, dense. If you want to learn about the Revolutionary period and you don't have the time to read "Empire," then "Friends Divided" is a very well-written and enjoyable alterna [...]

    14. This won't be a traditional review but instead what I learned from reading this book that I didn't know before. John Adams was accused of being too pro British because he supported a Constitution based on the British rule. He also considered having Senators be a hereditary position like the House of Lords. His thinking on this was because the rich were likely to have all the power if they could be in both houses. Remember a lot of people were illiterate and were dependent on their employers who [...]

    15. Wonderful book that has been most enlightening -- and has served to adjust this reader's assessment, at least, of both Adams and Jefferson. -- The opening chapter, in which the author contrasts the backgrounds and character of his subjects is alone worth the price of admission, as it were: Adams, the son of a farmer/shoemaker, firmly New England middle class, aspired to the upper echelons of society, but always nurtured a sense of not belonging there -- this led to his irascibility, his insecuri [...]

    16. Brown University historian Gordon S. Wood, in “Friends Divided” does a superb job of pitting the ideas, principles, and different versions of their ideal governments against one another in order to explain to the reader, why Thomas Jefferson might be more remembered today than John Adams.Why shouldn’t these two Founding Fathers be equally remembered and the phrases from their vast trove of writings and books be equally invoked by Americans today?Both, after all, were omnivorous readers, bo [...]

    17. Wonderful book that has been most enlightening -- and has served to adjust this reader's assessment, at least, of both Adams and Jefferson. -- The opening chapter, in which the author contrasts the backgrounds and character of his subjects is alone worth the price of admission, as it were: Adams, the son of a farmer/shoemaker, firmly New England middle class, aspired to the upper echelons of society, but always nurtured a sense of not belonging there -- this led to his irascibility, his insecuri [...]

    18. This was my first experience reading a “dual biography” and I really liked the format. More importantly, it is an excellent historical accounting of, arguably, two of the most important founding fathers. The comparing-and-contrasting of these two very different men helps the reader understand the differences between the South and North after the revolutionary war and their opposing views on the role of the Federal government in the confederation of the colonies (Federalists vs Republicans). [...]

    19. A fascinating look at these two men, mostly through their correspondence. Gordon Wood is as good as it gets when it comes to writing on the Founding Fathers. This work was originally supposed to be about Adams only, so he receives a bit more attention than Jefferson, which is certainly fine with me.Wood is not afraid to get into the weeds of these two men's political philosophy. However, instead of focusing so much on the Enlightenment thinkers that influenced these two men, Wood gave more focus [...]

    20. I thoroughly enjoyed Gordon S. Wood's Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (2017). It is essentially a co-biography focusing on their relationship. Their human-ness comes through nicely, their pettiness, insecurities, ambitions, self-deception, etc. Jefferson loved the French Revolution no matter what, hated the the idea of industrializing, and overall was naive. Adams was too pro-monarchy and prone to self-pity for how he was not appreciate enough. And they sniped at each other.Fund [...]

    21. Two Founding Fathers, two presidents, two statesmen, two lawyers and two political thinkers. In his book, the author intended to answer the question how come the second president of the United States is never remembered and appreciated as much as Thomas Jefferson. I believe Gordon S. Wood masterfully managed to answer that question. John Adams was a "working horse" of the American Revolution, a hard-working lawyer and not a very successful diplomat or politician, while Thomas Jefferson was quite [...]

    22. Gordon Wood was already a highly respected historian when I was in grad school 30+ years ago, and I was among his admirers. Here he turns his formidable talents as an intellectual historian to an account of the relationship between John Adams & Thomas Jefferson. Actually, though, it's not so much about their relationship (though that is a part of the account) as an extended (500-page) "compare & contrast" essay on their political theory and practice. There is probably more political theo [...]

    23. This book provides an interesting perspective into the governing philosophy, temperament, and views on democracy of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, two of our founding fathers. These two men couldn't have been more different in terms of their personalities and early life experiences and these differences greatly influenced their view of the role of government and the “wisdom” of the common man. They were the closest of friends in the early days of the revolution, yet became estranged in lat [...]

    24. Two men, founding fathers, united in the fight for independence, but clearly divided in their politics of how to run the new government. This is the story of two great men, and how they worked together to help win the American Revolution, but became bitter rivals in the world of government and politics. Doesn't that seem to always be the case? Fortunately, this story does not end there. These rivals were able to but aside their differences later in life to become great friends through their lett [...]

    25. The title of this book tells a lot about the 50 year relationship between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. They met at the beginning of the country around 1776 and had a long relationship lasting until they both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the creation of the nation. I say relationship rather than friendship because they agreed and disagreed on many issues over those years, some leading to many years where they did not communicate at all. Gordon Wood does a great job in describ [...]

    26. It took me awhile to get through this book but it was very interesting to read. It gave me a new understanding of the different personalities of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and how these differences affected the way we remember them. I also realized that nothing much changes in politics. Jefferson complains that the Confederation Congress is filled with lawyers "whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, and talk by the hour". Sound familiar? He also notes that things had gotte [...]

    27. The book gives a good picture of the characters and ideals of two of our most influential Founding Fathers, and those who surrounded them. Jefferson remains an enigma, since he believed fervently in the equality of all men but did nothing to oppose slavery, from which he benefited. Adams thought that equality was disproved by the manifest inequality of human beings. I think Adams failed to understand that equality is not a description of people's characteristics but a moral ideal about how peopl [...]

    28. If you have read other books by Wood, you will find much of this repetitive. However, the more he drills down into Adams and Jefferson, the better the book gets. I enjoyed the second half of the book much more, and learned details that I never knew before. The book is also an excellent survey of the foundations and reasons behind the early split between federalist and democratic republicans. Wood is very fair and balanced in presenting the pros and cons of both men, their personalities, and thei [...]

    29. A wonderful and interesting book, This is like a dual biography of men from different worlds. John Adams grew up in a middle class family in Massachusetts. While Thomas Jefferson grew up in a aristrocratic southern family in Virginia that owned slaves. They both had common goals and along with Benjamin Franklin, wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence-declaring America's freedom from British rule. Ironically, on July 4, 1826, on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of [...]

    30. This was a really great survey of the revolutionary era through the conceit of going back and forth between the (usually differing) opinions of Adams and Jefferson in their own words. It got me thinking a lot about how we mostly consider the question of how the US government is constituted to be settled, but it wasn't always so and it doesn't have to be going forward.Also, for the record, I'm #teamAdams.

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