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Short Synopsis
Award-winning historian Woody Holton reveals that the perennially popular "Founding Mother" has been woefully underestimated and that, although staunchly traditional in some areas, she was surprisingly modern, particularly when it came to questions of women's rights.

Full Synopsis
Abigail Adams offers a fresh perspective on the famous events of Adams's life, and along the way, Woody Holton, a renowned historian of the American Revolution, takes on numerous myths about the men and women of the founding era. But the book also demonstrates that domestic dramas—from unplanned pregnancies to untimely deaths—could be just as heartbreaking, significant, and inspiring as the actions of statesmen and soldiers. A special focus of the book is Adams's complex relationships: with her mother, sisters, and children; with her husband's famous contemporaries; and with Phoebe, one of her father's slaves. At the same time that John exhibited his own diplomatic skills on a better-known canvas, Abigail struggled to prevent the charitable gifts she gave her sisters from coming between them. In a departure from the persistently upbeat tone of most Adams biographies, Holton's work shows how frequently her life was marred by tragedy, making this the deepest, most humanistic portrayal ever published. Using the matchless trove of Adams family manuscripts, the author steps back to allow Abigail to respond to her many losses in her own words.

Holton reveals that Abigail Adams sharply disagreed with her husband's financial decisions and assumed control of the family's money herself—earning them a tidy fortune through her shrewd speculations (this during a time when married women were not permitted to own property). And he shows that her commitment to women's equality and education was intense and explicitly expressed and practical, from the more than two thousand letters she wrote over her lifetime to her final will (written in defiance of legislation prohibiting married women from bequeathing property).

Alternately witty, poignant, and uplifting, Holton's narrative sheds new light on one of America's best-loved but least-understood icons.

"Insightful, sensitive, and original.... Here is a bounty of fine-grained social history as well as a feast of language, from the eye and the voice of a historian-poet." ---Nell Irvin Painter, author of The History of White People

"Holton...provides a fresh perspective that invites [listeners] to do more than just remember this remarkable lady. They will admire her moxie." ---The New York Times Book Review

"Holton...allows Abigail's voice to radiate off the page; the biography grips the reader from the beginning." ---Library Journal Starred Review

"Holton's work draws on...rich sources to offer a comprehensive yet highly readable account of Abigail's life." ---The Washington Post

"Holton's superb biography shows us a three-dimensional Adams as a forward-thinking woman with a mind of her own." ---Publishers Weekly Starred Review

"Holton vividly captures the brilliance, charm, and spunk of Abigail Adams, and shows why she deserves her place at the table along with her husband, John, and the other Founders." ---Walter Isaacson, author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

"Holton seamlessly blends Abigail Adams's copious letters and journals with explanatory text. Narrator Cassandra Campbell's delivery of this well-researched biography is equally smooth." ---AudioFile

"An important presentation of one of our Founding Mothers and well worth reading." ---Providence Journal

"Abigail Adams is an American hero and Holton brings all the riches of her letters and legacy into literary technicolor." ---Ann Compton, White House correspondent, ABC News

"A thorough and thoughtful portrait of a woman who deserves our attention as a heroine of both the American Revolution and the feminist one." ---Ira Stoll, author of Samuel Adams: A Life
American Heritage Top 20 Most Notable
History Book 2009

Audie Finalist

Library Journal Review

Publishers Weekly Review

Abigail Adams

Author Woody Holton

Narrated by Cassandra Campbell

Publication date Nov 23, 2009

Running time 20 hrs

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