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Samuel Adams: A Life


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Ira Stoll was vice president and managing editor of The New York Sun, which he helped to found. He has been a consultant to the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, an editor of the Jerusalem Post, managing editor and Washington correspondent of the Forward, editor of Smartertimes.com, and a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. He is a native of Massachusetts and a graduate of Harvard College. He lives in New York C


Thomas Jefferson once declared, "For depth of purpose, zeal, and sagacity, no man in Congress exceeded, if any equaled, Sam Adams." Yet the American revolutionary from Massachusetts (1722-1803, cousin of John Adams) has become the forgotten founding father, and Stoll attempts to pull Adams out of this oblivion. Rebellious Americans' passionate vision of themselves as an incarnation of the Israelites freeing themselves from Egyptian slavery was invoked by Adams, one of the most religious American revolutionaries. He called on Americans to fulfill their God-given freedom and was a radical who endured physical danger, poverty and the death at 37 of his only son. But for Stoll, a managing editor of the New York Sun with a long career in newspapers, Adams was also the consummate newspaperman, a pundit dispersing the ideals of freedom. Occasionally apt to settle into litanies of Adams's various tasks and redundant statements on the divine right of American independence, Stoll also sporadically recounts evocative details of the period, such as the lyrics from revolutionary songs. This account might sustain a renewed interest in Adams as the founder of a distinctly American spirit. (Nov.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

No surprise here: a biographer thinks his subject unjustly forgotten and underrated. Samuel Adams, better known now as a beer brand than as the American revolutionary leader he was, is not in the first tier of Founding Fathers. Stoll (managing editor, New York Sun) argues for Adams's key role. He's not wrong. Massachusetts, the hothouse of the Revolution, was the site of the best-remembered moments of rebellion: the Boston Massacre, the Tea Party, Paul Revere's Ride, "the shots heard round the world." Adams had a hand in all, then helped declare independence from England and managed the war that followed. In Massachusetts, he helped write the commonwealth's constitution, which was a model for the U.S. Constitution, then topped his career by succeeding John Hancock as governor in 1793. It's a good story. Stoll has mined primary sources, but his excessive fondness for quoting makes the narrative sag in places, and overall he doesn't convey deep expertise with the 18th century. There are lots of Samuel Adams bios--three others since 1997--and this one is worthy, but optional, for public libraries that don't own one of the others.--Michael O. Eshleman, Kings Mills, OH Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

In order to understand the moral and religious roots of America's zeal for liberty, you need to know and appreciate Samuel Adams. Ira Stoll does a glorious job bringing to life this agitated and revolutionary apostle of liberty, whose passions still reverberate in our nation's soul. This book will help you understand our founding, and our future. -- Walter Isaacson, author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life and Einstein: His Life and Universe
Ira Stoll here manages the daunting task of anchoring Sam Adams in his own time yet making him relevant to ours. A triumph of learning and understanding. -- James Grant, author of John Adams: A Party of One
Samuel Adams was a life-long journalist who left a meager paper trail; a pious believer who was a flaming radical; the jumpstarter of our independence whom we have unaccountably lost track of. Ira Stoll lets the Founding Firebrand shine once more. -- Richard Brookhiser, author of George Washington on Leadership

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