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Extended Audio Sample Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams Audiobook, by Joseph J. Ellis Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (390 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Joseph J. Ellis Narrator: Grover Gardner Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: June 2005 ISBN: 9781455171712
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Here is a fresh look at an astute, likably quirky statesman, by the author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Founding Brothers and the National Book Award–winning American Sphinx.

John Adams, one of the Founding Fathers of our nation and its second president, spent nearly the last third of his life in retirement, grappling with contradictory views of his place in history and fearing his reputation would not fare well in the generations after his death. And indeed, future generations did slight him, elevating Jefferson and Madison to lofty heights while Adams remained way back in the second tier. Now, in a witty, clear, and thoughtful narrative of Adams’ later life at his home in Quincy, Joseph Ellis explores the mind and personality of the man, as well as the earlier events that shaped his thinking. Listeners will discover Adams to be both contentious and lovable, generous and petty, and perhaps the most intellectually profound of the revolutionary generation, whose perspective on America’s prospects has relevance for us today.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “His best book…Ellis’ knack for bringing historical figures to life seems so natural you can’t imagine him doing anything else.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “[A] notable study.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Capture[s] the man’s appealing spirit, providing new perspective on an unfairly neglected Founding Father.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Parker narrates this intellectual tour de force with strength and wit. His unvoiced reading matches the text wonderfully. His reading presents the complexity of thought clearly.”

    Kliatt

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steve | 1/18/2014

    " John Adams is one of U.S. history's more engaging characters. Ellis does a great job describing Adam's passion and wisdom as he helped with the founding of our Nation. A great book though I found David McCullough's book on John Adams a little more moving. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Diane | 1/8/2014

    " A must if you love history "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David Simonetti | 1/3/2014

    " This is an insightful and interesting study of Adam's charatcer. I enjoyed the book and it was easy to read, despite the fact that some times history books can be dry. Well worth reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris | 1/2/2014

    " I find Joseph Ellis to be a lot more even handed towards Mr. Adams than is the ever popular David McCullough, whom I find to have a little too much pollyanna in him. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Glenda | 12/25/2013

    " I've read many books about President Adams and have enjoyed his writing as well. This book was a very nice change of pace to the usual tome about him and a must for any Adams' fan's library. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eric | 12/13/2013

    " It is a vivid recounting of an uncertain period of history. It is well written, entertaining, and educational. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Manie | 12/9/2013

    " Great book. Eli's has done a great job of telling a story of one of our unappreciative president, "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rusty | 10/17/2013

    " Many know little of John Adams in his retirement years. Ellis focuses upon a time of Adams's life that was no less interesting than his earlier years. The Adams-Jefferson correspondence is always an interesting study. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kevin | 7/25/2013

    " In my opinion, Joseph Ellis approaches history with the mindset of a psychologist and I find this a unique and refreshing perspective. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 3/5/2013

    " Second to McCullough. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Scott Ford | 11/15/2012

    " When I get overwhelmed at my job, I think of John Adams. A man in the wrong place at the wrong time. To take on the role of President after George Washington, who was practically idolized! Jefferson was no fool! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John Windt | 10/19/2012

    " Excellent, excellent, excellent! A new found appreciation regarding John Adams after reading this book. A wonderful portrait of the Sage of Quincy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rob | 4/25/2012

    " Great, albeit brief, book about our 2nd president. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nino | 2/11/2012

    " One of my favorites at this time. Simone characterized Ellis's style as dry humor, and that's about right, but I love the way he writes. Who knew I could become BFF's with one of the founding fathers but Ellis made me love Adams. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Matthew | 4/3/2011

    " Adams and Jefferson...what a pair! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Emily | 2/20/2011

    " Oh that scamp John Adams! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dave | 1/15/2011

    " Interesting survey on the 2nd president of the US. It certainly sucked for Adams to be the next president after the best one of all time (GW), but you learn a lot about Adams' reasoning and intelligence during his years in politics. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jim | 12/26/2010

    " A wonderful book on my favorite founder. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Glenda | 10/14/2010

    " I've read many books about President Adams and have enjoyed his writing as well. This book was a very nice change of pace to the usual tome about him and a must for any Adams' fan's library. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Scott | 2/2/2010

    " When I get overwhelmed at my job, I think of John Adams. A man in the wrong place at the wrong time. To take on the role of President after George Washington, who was practically idolized! Jefferson was no fool! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jim | 7/24/2009

    " A wonderful book on my favorite founder. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nino | 6/6/2009

    " One of my favorites at this time. Simone characterized Ellis's style as dry humor, and that's about right, but I love the way he writes. Who knew I could become BFF's with one of the founding fathers but Ellis made me love Adams. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Diane | 7/11/2008

    " A must if you love history "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kevin | 6/9/2008

    " In my opinion, Joseph Ellis approaches history with the mindset of a psychologist and I find this a unique and refreshing perspective. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steve | 4/23/2008

    " John Adams is one of U.S. history's more engaging characters. Ellis does a great job describing Adam's passion and wisdom as he helped with the founding of our Nation. A great book though I found David McCullough's book on John Adams a little more moving. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris | 1/29/2008

    " I find Joseph Ellis to be a lot more even handed towards Mr. Adams than is the ever popular David McCullough, whom I find to have a little too much pollyanna in him. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 11/21/2007

    " This is an insightful and interesting study of Adam's charatcer. I enjoyed the book and it was easy to read, despite the fact that some times history books can be dry. Well worth reading. "

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About the Author
Author Joseph J. Ellis

Joseph J. Ellis is the Ford Foundation Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College. Educated at the College of William and Mary and Yale University, he served as a captain in the army and taught at West Point before coming to Mount Holyoke in 1972. He was dean of the faculty there for ten years. Among his previous books is Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams. He lives in Holyoke, Massachusetts, with his wife, Ellen, and three sons.

About the Narrator

Grover Gardner (a.k.a. Tom Parker) is an award-winning narrator with over eight hundred titles to his credit. Named one of the “Best Voices of the Century” and a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine, he has won three prestigious Audie Awards, was chosen Narrator of the Year for 2005 by Publishers Weekly, and has earned more than thirty Earphones Awards.