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.
"Grant's wise and witty portrayal of John Adams deserves to go to the top of the lengthening list of biographies of the several Founding Fathers. No portrayal of Adams and his times is as perceptive, solidly grounded in the sources, and as delightfully written as is this book." --Paul C. Nagel, author of Descent from Glory: Four Generations of the John Adams Family and The Adams Women: Abigail and Louisa Adams, Their Sisters and Daughters
"Grant’s John Adams: Party of One should become the standard one volume on the second President’s life. Jim Grant is a virtuoso financial historian, American historian and master of the English language. From Grant, John Adams gets his just reward--a deeply researched, honest, marvelously written biography." --Lewis Lehrman,Lewis E. Lehrman, Co-Chairman, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
"This is much more than the curmudgeonly, financially-sophisticated view of a financially sophisticated curmudgeon you might expect of Mr. Grant, author of four notable books on finance and financial history. Well-wrought and scrupulous, John Adams: Party of One is written with elegance and a subtle understanding that rises to eloquence where eloquence matters, and builds to affectionate and moving truth." --Roger Kennedy, Director Emeritus, The National Museum of American History
"In this first-rate biography, Jim Grant delivers an effervescent life of John Adams that sparkles with classic wit, droll charm, and an engaging whimsy that perfectly suits both the subject and the period. Going beyond the humorous anecdotes and satirical asides that enliven his narrative, however, Grant sketches a poignant portrait of a doughty, stubborn, and many-sided man who defies easy generalizations. Whether as a lawyer, patriot, diplomat, or president, John Adams was a certified American original--a 'party of one,' as the subtitle intimates--and this biography, brimming with verbal riches, proves no less singular than its protagonist." --Ron Chernow, author of Alexander Hamilton