Party of One
By James Grant
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374113148, 544pp.)
Publication Date: March 9, 2005
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An acute examination of a paradoxical U.S. president.
John Adams was an undiplomatic diplomat and an impolitic politician--a fierce revolutionary yet a detached and reluctant leader of the nation he helped to found. Few American public figures have ever been more devoted to doing the right thing, or more contemptuous of doing the merely popular thing. Yet his Yankee-bred fixation with ethical propriety and fiscal conservatism never stood in the way of his doing what was necessary. Adams hated debt, but as minister to the Netherlands during the Revolution, he was America's premier junk-bond salesman. And though raised a traditional Massachusetts Congregationalist, Adams was instrumental in bringing about the consecration of the first American Episcopal bishops. He was a warm and magnanimous friend and, on occasion, a man who fully vindicated the famous judgment of a rival he detested. Adams, said Benjamin Franklin, "means well for his country, is always an honest man, often a wise one, but, sometimes, and in some things, is absolutely out of his senses."
James Grant examines this complex and often contradictory founding father in the most well-rounded and multi-faceted portrait of Adams to date. Going from his beginnings on a hardscrabble Massachusetts farm to the Continental Congress to the Court of St. James and the White House, Grant traces the words and deeds of one of our most learned but politically star-crossed leaders.
James Grant is the editor of Grant's Interest Rate Observer and the author of four books on finance and financial history, including Money of the Mind (FSG, 1992) and Minding Mr. Market (FSG, 1993). He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Patricia Kavanagh, and their four children.