John Quincy Adams by Paul C. Nagel

John Quincy Adams

Nagel probes deeply into the psyche of this cantankerous, misanthropic, erudite, hardworking son of a former president whose remarkable career spanned many offices: minister to Holland, Russia, and England, U.S. senator, secretary of state, president of the United States (1825-1829), and, finally, U.S. representative (the only ex-president to serve in the House). On the basis of a thorough study of Adams' seventy-year diary among a host of other ...

Details John Quincy Adams

TitleJohn Quincy Adams
Release DateSep 30th, 1997
GenreBiography, History, Politics, Presidents, Nonfiction, North American Hi..., American History

Reviews John Quincy Adams

  • Mara
    If I were John Quincy Adams (oft' referred to as JQA), much of this review would likely consist of chastising myself for not having the discipline or talent to write a better review. I mean, this was a guy who wasseriously full of self-reproach. If he didn't have an internal proclivity for finding fault in himself, it's likely that growing up the first-born son of John and Abigail Adams would have steered him in that direction.The elder John Adam...
  • Doreen Petersen
    Absolutely loved, loved, loved this book. As far as JQA's term as president to me that was rather bland. The story of his life and his success as a human being against numerous odds is what just blew me away! Definitely a must read for anyone!
  • Carol
    Excellent biography based on JQA's diaries (of nearly seventy years), focused more on his private than public life. Such an amazing man-- well traveled by his teen years, brilliant diplomat, Harvard graduate (2nd in his class), struggled with depression, perfectionism and trying to meet the high standards of his parents. Would have preferred to be a man of letters (was a professor of Oratory at Harvard) and had a passion for science and technolog...
  • Patricia Mendez
    I was familiar with the Adams Family having read several books on JQA's famous parents. I was interested in learning what type of man JQA was in his private life as well as his professional career. This book did not disappoint in terms of bringing out JQA's genius, personality, talents and struggles. He unquestionably blessed the United States of America with his diplomatic skills with various important treaties and his life-long service. All the...
  • Nicolette Harding
    I did it!! Finally finished this one!!The first president with clinical depression (although undiagnosed they had no idea in those times) and I'd jump to say ADHD. He could never get anywhere on time, missed the vote for the Louisiana Purchase. He was very disorganized and unable to generally get things done, studying, reading, writing. I didint realize he was a congressman after his presidency. His term in office was a stalemate due to a congres...
  • Czarny Pies
    Paul C. Nagel's John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life falls short of the expectations of what I have for a book from the Harvard University Press. The work is thoroughly researched and the author is a legitimate academic expert in the field. The problem lies with Nagel's decision to present a record of how John Quincy Adams viewed the events in his life rather than an analysis of his role in American history. By focussing on Adam's psy...
  • Aaron Million
    Reading this book was a pleasant surprise: I had anticipated another somewhat academic, scholarly biography of JQA. Instead, Nagel was scrupulous in trying to balance the personal with the professional Adams. The book does not get bogged down in Adams' many foreign policy accomplishments. That in and of itself is a feat as Adams was a great statesman in the diplomatic realm: Minister (today he would be called an Ambassador) to The Netherlands, Mi...
  • Barbara
    A good biography must be more than a summary of dates and events; the best would not only relate an individual's achievements, but also his motivating influences and internal conflicts. Because John Quincy Adams kept a very detailed, and intimate, diary for 70 years of his life, the author had a wealth of information upon which to draw, the result being a dynamic exploration of the sixth president.Well-traveled from a young age and educated in Eu...
  • Jenny Brown
    This is one of those rare and wonderful biographies of a public figure that gives you deep insight into the person behind the historical personage. I had always bought into the commonly held idea that JQA was a curmudgeon who didn't live up to his father's heroic example. I came away from this book appreciating both his accomplishments and the emotional difficulties he faced as he lived a life where the best of the 18th and early 19th century cul...
  • Jamie Collins
    I enjoyed this. It’s a very personal biography of Adams, based largely on his diaries. It contains only as much historical background as is absolutely necessary to make his story intelligible.The author is fond of Adams and unabashedly defends his often maligned character. He doesn’t hesitate to describe Adams’s weaknesses, though, and only spends a single chapter on his miserable presidency, calling it a "hapless failure and best forgotten...
  • Jeff
    Nagel takes the abundant writings of John Quincy Adams and pieces together the troubled yet inspirational life of the president best known for his public service before and after his uneventful time in the Executive Mansion. I got to know a very different Abigail Adams, and the first President Adams, too, than the loving couple I read of in McCullough's John Adams. Nagel revealed the overbearing parents, and how their influence shaped their son's...
  • Sarah
    John Quincy Adams lived such an interesting life, from his childhood on up to his old age, even to the moment of his death. The years of 1767-1848 were such a fascinating time for American history, from the end of the colonial era to the American Revolution, to the War of 1812, through the rumblings that led to the Civil War. He lived through the American Industrial Revolution, going from wind power to steam, from horses to trains, from painting ...
  • Jeremy Perron
    There is a phrase in the United States that asks, "How good does one have to be in order to bad in the NBA?" The answer to this question is "pretty damn awesome!" To be bad in the NBA, the MLB, or the NFL one has to be an incredible ball player. Only by being great at the lower levels can one find the opportunity to be bad as a professional.I think you can take this same view with American statesmen and the presidency. The American presidency is ...
  • Judy Baker
    Nagel's biography of JQA proved to be a very readable text, illustrating the long public life of a man who lived an incredible life for the era. Reared by demanding parents and provided with unparalleled opportunities of travel throughout Europe as a teenager created within JQA an insatiable need to be someone special who would make an everlasting mark on mankind. His irasciable temperment and his unrealistic life goals resulted in the portrait o...
  • Robyn
    Excellent biography of JQA - easy to read narrative style, drawn largely from JQA's vast diaries. Insightful regarding the private and the public personas of our 6th President (although, as a personal fan of Abigail Adams, it was a bit difficult to read how strongly the author criticizes Abigail's parenting personality!)
  • Steve
    2013-05-06“John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life” by Paul Nagel was published in 1997 and represents the first significant biography of JQA following Marie Hecht’s 1972 biography. Nagel’s biography was also the first to draw upon his complete (and voluminous) diary. Nagel, who died in 2011, was an author and historian, and spent time as a professor at the University of Georgia and University of Ken...
  • Brian Pate
    This is a superb biography...but not necessarily fun to read. Although thorough and well-researched, it was tedious to read at times.Nagel's biography is the first biography based on JQA's diary. While this affords a unique perspective into his life and psyche, it seemed like an overkill at times. Just because JQA wrote details about what he ate and drank and the specifics of dinner conversations does not mean that it needs to be included in his ...
  • Regina Lindsey
    Although probably the most prepared man in history to become president, JQA's presidency is viewed by most historians as an abysmal failure. However, what does get lost in history is the success JQA found in other roles of government. He was well traveled by the time he reached his teen years. He was highly intelligent. Served admirably as diplomat and Secretary of State. Eventually returned to the House after his presidency. Using JQA's diaries...
  • Martin Bihl
    I gotta say, I really didn't know what to expect with this biography of the Sixth President. On the one hand, I'd heard he was cold, humourless and unbearably arrogant. On the other, I'd heard it was generally agreed he was the smartest of all the Presidents. And there there's the fact of his life that appear in McCullough's bio of his father, or in bios of Madison and Monroe - in whose administrations he served.And the verdict? Yes. Cold, humour...
  • Kim Dennis
    When I was in high school, I fell in love with John Adams. I have now fallen in love with his son.When I first started reading, I was leaning more towards 4 stars than 5 for two reasons. Number 1, Nagel didn't cite his quotes, which really bothers me. Number 2, I didn't like his treatment of Abigail Adams. I have always loved her, too, and I don't think Nagel ever said anything positive about her. My first issue was taken care of when I realized ...
  • Brian Eshleman
    I consider a great biography one that sketches out the subject's psyche to such an extent that the reader can project how he or she would react in another situation AND a work which gives the reader a detailed texture for his or her time.In this case, relying heavily on John Quincy Adams's detail and Decades-Long journal, the author has his hands full with his subject's energetic and irascible temperament as it escapes from his pen. As a reader, ...
  • Sarah
    Perhaps I am blinded by my Massachusetts blood, but I have always believed that both John Adams and JQA have been vastly underrated by history. It may also be that portrayals of both of them as stubborn, sometimes cold, and cantankerous men don't trouble me so much since I recognize the typical marks of a New Englander in that profile. And neither of them was as cold or cantankerous as some would say anyway.In any case, this is an excellent biogr...
  • Jeffrey
    When I get to the end of a presidential biography, I always feel a sadness at the passing of a leader of our nation. John Quincy Adams: a Public Life, a Private Life is certainly no exception. Nagel's excellent biography really brought this gruff old gentleman (for I think he was old after about the age of 25) to life. JQA was a fascinating man, full of contradictions and convictions. Our nation was blessed to have him.
  • Lucas Brandl
    Biographers don't know very much about the personal lives of James Madison or James Monroe. They both seem to have not wanted to pass that information on to history. James Madison would black out letters he found embarrassing. In John Quincy Adams you have the complete opposite. He wrote in a diary from the age of 11 into his 80s. He wrote so much that the author estimates it will take until the 22nd century for scholars to move all his writings ...
  • David Beeson
    John Quincy Adams was a strange figure, politically and personally. Subtitled “a public life, a private life” this fine biography does justice to both.Paul C. Nagel makes extensive use of Adams’ correspondence and the diary that he kept for most of his life, to reveal the man’s personality, and a fascinating picture emerges. Adams was tormented by sensations of failure or at least underachievement, but that could easily flip into what sou...
  • ᴡᴡᴡ
    4.5 stars. This biography has well satisfied my need to learn about the life and times of each president. Known as JQA to distinguish him from his famous father, John Adams, he grew up during the upheaval of the American revolution and was introduced to the world of statesmanship and diplomacy when he accompanied his father to Europe, at the age of 14, to witness the efforts to establish official ties with the chief powers of Europe. He was sent ...
  • Diana
    This felt like a very different biography of a president than the others I read, but that is likely because this was the first who was not a founding father (though was the son of one). The book focused quite a bit of JQA's mental health issues, which I found refreshing and extremely interesting. Like his father and most politicians, he was incredibly ambitious yet thin-skinned. His presidency, ironically, was a complete failure -- but he had sig...
  • Bill
    Nagel’s John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, A Private Life is more successful in exploring the complicated depths of JQA’s private side than it is in portraying his public service. The book serves a valuable purpose but, if the reader wants a thorough understanding of the man, Nagel should be read in tandem with a biography that focuses more on JQA’s accomplishments as a Senator, diplomat, Secretary of State, President, and Congressman.Nagel ...
  • Muffin Pam
    Oh JQ! A biography that I had intended to be a snore was a bit more interesting and opened a new liking in me for the son of one of the founders. First of all, JQ appeared to have been that weird kid with an overbearing mom and a tendency to read bible verses and foreign languages over having fun with the other kids (probably would have been a D and D kid). But he grew up to be a smart guy and lived abroad to help represent his country in interna...
  • Paul Clarke
    It isn't everyday that you read a presidential biography where the low-light of a man's career was his time in the White House but so it was for the 6th President of the United States John Quincy Adams. There may also never have been or will be a President who seemed as destined for greatness as JQA. Nagel does a good job of documenting the hardship and struggle that accompanied JQA even with his gifts and privilege - great expectations, a family...