Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

From the great historian of the American Revolution, New York Times-bestselling and Pulitzer-winning Gordon Wood, comes a majestic dual biography of two of America's most enduringly fascinating figures, whose partnership helped birth a nation, and whose subsequent falling out did much to fix its course.Thomas Jefferson and John Adams could scarcely have come from more diff...

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Title:Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson
Author:Gordon S. Wood
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Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson Reviews

  • Jillian Doherty

    Like Churchill and Orwell this awesome duel biography highlights not only both men's journeys, but illustrates how they became who they were because of their relationship.

    Although these founding fathers loathed each other - for having opposing personalities and political affiliation, but as they formed the country, they also formed a deeper understanding and appreciation for each other.

    If we could have more driven focus and tolerance today, we might also better understand how looking in the past

    Like Churchill and Orwell this awesome duel biography highlights not only both men's journeys, but illustrates how they became who they were because of their relationship.

    Although these founding fathers loathed each other - for having opposing personalities and political affiliation, but as they formed the country, they also formed a deeper understanding and appreciation for each other.

    If we could have more driven focus and tolerance today, we might also better understand how looking in the past as much to teach is the better future.

  • Matthew Hyde

    So I fortunate enough to win the historical book Friends Divided in the goodreads giveaway. This book was excellent from front to back. Gordon S. Wood does an amazing job of covering the important details and thoughts of both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams during such events as the American Revolution, French Revolution, the Presidencies of both men, and their lives after politics. Wood I felt was fair in keeping a balance of the two men, and did not show favoritism toward one rather than the o

    So I fortunate enough to win the historical book Friends Divided in the goodreads giveaway. This book was excellent from front to back. Gordon S. Wood does an amazing job of covering the important details and thoughts of both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams during such events as the American Revolution, French Revolution, the Presidencies of both men, and their lives after politics. Wood I felt was fair in keeping a balance of the two men, and did not show favoritism toward one rather than the other. In fact he shows the weaknesses and strengths both of these men exhibited through their personal and political lives. What one can gather from reading this book is that Adams was at times a little too outspoken, while Jefferson was very patient and was careful how he expressed himself. I liked how Wood used the letters which these two men wrote to each other, friends, and family to show the reader how these men really thought and felt. Wood kept it factually and not opinionated by doing so. For me personally, what I enjoyed about this book the most is the detailed account of America's history. Wood does a very in depth revealing of facts showing the reader how America came to be mostly due to the influence of such men such as Adams and Jefferson. Its hard to grasp at the thought that the roots of America's Civil War, our political parties that Americans still see today, and how an American thinks and acts started at the very early stages of America early years. One last point I would like to make is that the book is very easy to read and Wood keeps the reader attached throughout. Wood's book is a historical book worms dream. Thank you for the good read.

  • Jill Meyer

    On July 4, 1826, 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia, two men died. One, Thomas Jefferson, died at Monticello in Virginia, while the other, John Adams, died far away in Boston. Both men had been presidents of the United States, and since the country was not in the instant communication we have today, neither man knew of the other's impending death. In his superb new history, "Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson", Gordon Wood takes a detailed loo

    On July 4, 1826, 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia, two men died. One, Thomas Jefferson, died at Monticello in Virginia, while the other, John Adams, died far away in Boston. Both men had been presidents of the United States, and since the country was not in the instant communication we have today, neither man knew of the other's impending death. In his superb new history, "Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson", Gordon Wood takes a detailed look at the lives and how each man's strengths and weaknesses influenced our new country.

    John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were, in many ways, polar opposites in both personality and upbringing. One was a slave-owning Southerner and the other was a Northerner, who deplored the idea of one man owning another. One had a charming, if somewhat melancholy demeanor where the other was a no-nonsense kind of man. But both were brilliant and were devoted to the cause of American independence from Great Britain. And after independence, the two were involved in setting up our governing system. Gordon Wood takes a penetrating look at both men and the times they lived in, He's a smooth writer and the book is excellent.

  • Kristi Richardson

    This won't be a traditional review but instead what I learned from reading this book that I didn't know before.

    John Adams was accused of being too pro British because he supported a Constitution based on the British rule. He also considered having Senators be a hereditary position like the House of Lords. His thinking on this was because the rich were likely to have all the power if they could be in both houses. Remember a lot of people were illiterate and were dependent on their employers who

    This won't be a traditional review but instead what I learned from reading this book that I didn't know before.

    John Adams was accused of being too pro British because he supported a Constitution based on the British rule. He also considered having Senators be a hereditary position like the House of Lords. His thinking on this was because the rich were likely to have all the power if they could be in both houses. Remember a lot of people were illiterate and were dependent on their employers who could dictate who they could vote for. He was not born into the aristocracy like Jefferson and always was leery of them, although he admired the respect they received and wanted that respect to go to those in office.

    Thomas Jefferson was a patrician, who pretended to not want to be involved in politics but by his back handed dealings really proved that he was capable of petty machinations to get his way. Neither Adams or Jefferson trusted banks during their lives. Jefferson saw America as a farming country that would import everything else and trade with their produce. He hated cities. Jefferson felt that the Constitution should only be valid for 19 years and then should be completely re done. Madison talked him out of that notion when he explained how difficult it was to get this one passed. It may have been an influence on how Amendments could be added. Jefferson was pro French and never could see the French Revolution for what it became, a bloodbath and a tyrant taking power.

    Late in life the two men renewed their friendship thanks to Benjamin Rush. They wrote to each other quite a bit, with Adams needling Jefferson all the time and Jefferson ignoring those posts for things he believed in. They were a couple of policy wonks and they truly loved our country. Their visions of America didn't come true, but much to their dismay Alexander Hamilton's did. He foresaw a nation that became a super Power with countries coming to us to borrow money, to buy goods and for fair trade.

    I have read many biographies of these two gentlemen, but this one really does bring something new to their stories.

    I borrowed this book from my local library and highly recommend it.

  • David Dunlap

    Wonderful book that has been most enlightening -- and has served to adjust this reader's assessment, at least, of both Adams and Jefferson. -- The opening chapter, in which the author contrasts the backgrounds and character of his subjects is alone worth the price of admission, as it were: Adams, the son of a farmer/shoemaker, firmly New England middle class, aspired to the upper echelons of society, but always nurtured a sense of not belonging there -- this led to his irascibility, his insecuri

    Wonderful book that has been most enlightening -- and has served to adjust this reader's assessment, at least, of both Adams and Jefferson. -- The opening chapter, in which the author contrasts the backgrounds and character of his subjects is alone worth the price of admission, as it were: Adams, the son of a farmer/shoemaker, firmly New England middle class, aspired to the upper echelons of society, but always nurtured a sense of not belonging there -- this led to his irascibility, his insecurity as to his status and contributions to the American colonial cause, and his jealousy of others (Franklin/Washington/even Jefferson) -- but this was always leavened with an appealing streak of self-mockery. Jefferson, on the other hand, was born into Virginia planter society and, as a result, had a self-confidence and comfort within his own skin that forever eluded his elder comrade-in-arms. -- The bulk of the book bounces back in forth as the two men marry, raise families, find themselves involved in the Colonies' battles with England, and help to lead the new country forward. Wood is very good at underlining the reasons for Adams's and Jefferson's bitter estrangement. It is when he writes of their eventual reconciliation that he shines, however -- showing how Jefferson's natural good manners and desire to avoid conflict papered over provocations from the pen of Adams, how Jefferson gradually found himself alienated from the society the young United States was becoming (ironically, a society he had helped to form), and how Adams's lifelong pessimism actually helped him to accommodate himself to the changes in that same society. Wood concludes that Jefferson the visionary and optimist (however wrong he may have been about the outcome of the forces he helped set in motion), not Adams the somewhat cantankerous realist, is the one that our country values the more highly, even today. -- The book is an admirable exercise in historical writing -- demonstrating a mastery of original materials and thoroughly well-documented. Bravo!

  • Brion

    The title of this book tells a lot about the 50 year relationship between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. They met at the beginning of the country around 1776 and had a long relationship lasting until they both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the creation of the nation. I say relationship rather than friendship because they agreed and disagreed on many issues over those years, some leading to many years where they did not communicate at all. Gordon Wood does a great job in describ

    The title of this book tells a lot about the 50 year relationship between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. They met at the beginning of the country around 1776 and had a long relationship lasting until they both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the creation of the nation. I say relationship rather than friendship because they agreed and disagreed on many issues over those years, some leading to many years where they did not communicate at all. Gordon Wood does a great job in describing the how each man developed their political and social views and how those views continued to evolve over their lives. It’s a great view of the issues that shaped the beginning of the country and how the lives of these two men intertwined through the chaos of creating a new country.

  • Cheryl

    This book provides an interesting perspective into the governing philosophy, temperament, and views on democracy of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, two of our founding fathers. These two men couldn't have been more different in terms of their personalities and early life experiences and these differences greatly influenced their view of the role of government and the “wisdom” of the common man. They were the closest of friends in the early days of the revolution, yet became estranged in later y

    This book provides an interesting perspective into the governing philosophy, temperament, and views on democracy of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, two of our founding fathers. These two men couldn't have been more different in terms of their personalities and early life experiences and these differences greatly influenced their view of the role of government and the “wisdom” of the common man. They were the closest of friends in the early days of the revolution, yet became estranged in later years over various political and personal disagreements. Fortunately, they managed to rekindle their friendship in their old age and ironically both died on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. I gave this book three to four stars because although there was a lot in it to hold my interest, there were also some sections where there was a bit too much detail about events and not enough personal insight into the people involved.

  • Robert Melnyk

    This book details the relationship, both personal and political, between two or our most famous founding fathers, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. These two men came from different backgrounds and differing political views, but were close friends during the early days of the American Revolution. However, their differences led to a bitter rivalry and the end of their friendship, epitomized by the election of 1800, perhaps the most nasty and divisive presidential election in the history of our nat

    This book details the relationship, both personal and political, between two or our most famous founding fathers, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. These two men came from different backgrounds and differing political views, but were close friends during the early days of the American Revolution. However, their differences led to a bitter rivalry and the end of their friendship, epitomized by the election of 1800, perhaps the most nasty and divisive presidential election in the history of our nation (and that includes the election of 2016 :-) ). Fortunately, after years of not speaking, they were able to reconcile and ended up corresponding with each other through letters during the final years of their lives. I still find it eerie that they both died on the same day, July 4, 1826, 50 years to the day from the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. The book also gives an opinion as to why Jefferson is honored in Washington D.C. with a memorial while Adams is not. Very interesting.

  • R.A. Filce

    If you have read other books by Wood, you will find much of this repetitive. However, the more he drills down into Adams and Jefferson, the better the book gets. I enjoyed the second half of the book much more, and learned details that I never knew before. The book is also an excellent survey of the foundations and reasons behind the early split between federalist and democratic republicans. Wood is very fair and balanced in presenting the pros and cons of both men, their personalities, and thei

    If you have read other books by Wood, you will find much of this repetitive. However, the more he drills down into Adams and Jefferson, the better the book gets. I enjoyed the second half of the book much more, and learned details that I never knew before. The book is also an excellent survey of the foundations and reasons behind the early split between federalist and democratic republicans. Wood is very fair and balanced in presenting the pros and cons of both men, their personalities, and their political beliefs.

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