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Extended Audio Sample Abigail Adams Audiobook, by Woody Holton Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (504 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Woody Holton Narrator: Cassandra Campbell Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2009 ISBN: 9781400184217
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Abigail Adams offers a fresh perspective on the famous events of Adams's life, and along the way, Woody Holton, a renowned historian of the American Revolution, takes on numerous myths about the men and women of the founding era. But the book also demonstrates that domestic dramas-from unplanned pregnancies to untimely deaths-could be just as heartbreaking, significant, and inspiring as the actions of statesmen and soldiers. A special focus of the book is Adams's complex relationships: with her mother, sisters, and children; with her husband's famous contemporaries; and with Phoebe, one of her father's slaves. At the same time that John exhibited his own diplomatic skills on a better-known canvas, Abigail struggled to prevent the charitable gifts she gave her sisters from coming between them. In a departure from the persistently upbeat tone of most Adams biographies, Holton's work shows how frequently her life was marred by tragedy, making this the deepest, most humanistic portrayal ever published. Using the matchless trove of Adams family manuscripts, the author steps back to allow Abigail to respond to her many losses in her own words. Holton reveals that Abigail Adams sharply disagreed with her husband's financial decisions and assumed control of the family's money herself-earning them a tidy fortune through her shrewd speculations (this during a time when married women were not permitted to own property). And he shows that her commitment to women's equality and education was intense and explicitly expressed and practical, from the more than two thousand letters she wrote over her lifetime to her final will (written in defiance of legislation prohibiting married women from bequeathing property). Alternately witty, poignant, and uplifting, Holton's narrative sheds new light on one of America's best-loved but least-understood icons. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Holton vividly captures the brilliance, charm, and spunk of Abigail Adams, and shows why she deserves her place at the table along with her husband, John, and the other Founders.”

    Walter Isaacson, New York Times bestselling author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

  • Insightful, sensitive, and original.... Here is a bounty of fine-grained social history as well as a feast of language, from the eye and the voice of a historian-poet. Nell Irvin Painter, author of The History of White People
  • “Holton’s work draws on…rich sources to offer a comprehensive yet highly readable account of Abigail’s life.”

    Washington Post

  • “Holton…provides a fresh perspective that invites [listeners] to do more than just remember this remarkable lady. They will admire her moxie.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Holton…allows Abigail’s voice to radiate off the page; the biography grips the reader from the beginning.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Holton’s superb biography shows us a three-dimensional Adams as a forward-thinking woman with a mind of her own.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Holton seamlessly blends Abigail Adams’s copious letters and journals with explanatory text. Narrator Cassandra Campbell’s delivery of this well-researched biography is equally smooth.”

    AudioFile

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rebecca | 2/6/2014

    " I loved reading about early American History through the life experiences of Abigail Adams. She was a intelligent, tough woman who placed her relationships with her family as her highest priority. Very educational! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Danielle | 2/4/2014

    " This was a great biography! Occasionally, some of the money stuff was a little dry, but it was such a complete portrait of Abigail Adams. She was such an amazing woman, especially in the context of her time. All of the excerpts from letters to and from her made it an even better read. Definitely a book to recommend if you'd like to know more about a prominent founding mother in America. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jill | 1/31/2014

    " I gave this four stars for content more than structure or excellent writing. It is remarkable how personal this book became while listening to it in the nation's capital. I have always been intrigued by the Adams family and their lives' intertwining with the birth and early history of our nation. Abigail herself is someone I think I would have really gotten on with, but what a meddler! She really stepped over the line a lot - particularly with John Quincy. He, however, seemed very quick to forgive her. There were several stories of hard feelings between formerly close friends (Jefferson, Mercy Warren, etc.), most of which reconciled after many years. It was interesting to see the theme of forgiveness in the lives of the Adams. I particularly enjoyed the author's not being afraid to show Abigail's weaknesses and character flaws. I liked Abigail all the more for her being aware of these herself for the most part. This is a fairly exhaustive biography, and I really enjoyed all that I learned from it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Martha | 1/22/2014

    " Abigail Adams has always been one of my favorite founding mothers. However, her vibrant life became dull in the pages of this book. I had the book for 2 months from the library and had to finally just turn it back in without finishing it. I would like to try a different biography about Mrs. Adams. Any suggestions? I thought this was really dry reading and at times hard to follow. Lots of odd tangents, they were brought back to her life but some so insignificant that it made the flow of reading falter. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wil | 1/15/2014

    " Holton's close analysis of her letters yields many interesting facts about both the Adams and the entire Revolutionary period...it was a fascinating, even though long, account. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cathy Kovacs | 1/11/2014

    " Loved!!! Abigail Adams a way.beyond time!!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deb | 1/2/2014

    " Pretty good, but rather slow going. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Susan | 12/26/2013

    " Yes, it is possible to find something new to say about a well-known 18th century American. Enjoyed his take. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 G. | 12/16/2013

    " Wonderful, great read. I felt like I had actually met her and understood her. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sheri | 11/29/2013

    " What a shame that we no longer write letters to document our lives. Adam's life was so well documented through her correspondence that the book is almost an autobiography. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anna | 9/27/2013

    " I had read John Adams and I thought this oule be an exciting sequel to that. Not quite-too much back and forth. I couldn't finish it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anne Zielinsk | 9/10/2013

    " This gives a more detailed account of Abigail's family as well as her marriage and children. I liked it but I like histories. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brooke | 6/3/2013

    " Abigail Adams was America's first feminist and all-around a super cool lady. This is a well-written biography that shows her tendency toward service and her business savvy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jean Marie Angelo | 11/3/2012

    " Tedious at times, but filled with little gems. Did you know that John and Abigail's daughter Nabby lived for a time on a farm in Eastchester, New York? As soon as the snow melts I will do a local history tour. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maria | 9/20/2012

    " It is sad we don't learn about this amazing woman in school. She certainly planted the seed for women's rights...she was into feminism before it was even thought of. I highly recommend...the only downfall is a bit repetitious. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shion | 6/1/2012

    " i'm surprised i liked this book as much as i did, but my girl, abby, is a tough nut and i enjoyed reading about her :) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Melissa Miller | 12/12/2011

    " I loved this book. It was very interesting, so much so that I had a hard time putting it down. I don't always have that problem with biographies. I would definitely recommend this - she was a remarkable woman and really deserves more discussion than she's had in MY experience! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lindsay | 7/14/2011

    " This book gives Abigail the credit she deserves as one of the founders of our nation. Excellent. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pam | 4/28/2011

    " This was a wonderful biography that helped understand the Revolutionary War period and later. There is a lot of imfornation on each page, but truly worth reading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Otherdeb | 3/20/2011

    " Pretty good, but rather slow going. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jean Marie | 2/18/2011

    " Tedious at times, but filled with little gems. Did you know that John and Abigail's daughter Nabby lived for a time on a farm in Eastchester, New York? As soon as the snow melts I will do a local history tour. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Theresa | 1/30/2011

    " I hadn't realized she was the main business person in the Adams family, investing in stocks, selling in the black market, etc. I also hadn't realized she became such a bully as she aged. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christina | 1/23/2011

    " Good biography! I had the sense that I knew her. She vaguely reminded me of my mother. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gail | 12/22/2010

    " Excellent! Couldn't put it down. I felt like I knew her personally. I hated it when I was done. I felt like I had to say good-bye to a close friend. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Susan | 11/20/2010

    " Yes, it is possible to find something new to say about a well-known 18th century American. Enjoyed his take. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Shannon | 11/16/2010

    " a slog! So difficult to get through. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Claudia | 10/20/2010

    " I actually listened to this via audiobook and I think it was more of a joy to hear than it might have been to read though I really could have used a family tree to keep all the relatives straight. That said, it's a great book for any history buff. Next: the John Adams miniseries! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tiffany | 9/21/2010

    " This was very well written and I enjoyed it very much! "

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About the Author

Woody Holton is an associate professor of history at the University of Richmond in Virginia and a former Guggenheim fellow. He is the author of the award-winning books Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution, a finalist for the National Book Award, and Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves, and the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia, which earned him a prestigious Merle Curti Award for Social History from the Organization of American Historians. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.

About the Narrator

Cassandra Campbell, Audie Award–nominated narrator and winner of thirty-nine Earphones Awards, has performed in regional theaters across the country and in several off-Broadway shows at the Public Theater and the Mint Theater. In addition to narrating audiobooks, acting, and directing, she is a commercial and documentary voice-over artist.