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John Quincy Adams: American Visionary    by Fred Kaplan order for
John Quincy Adams
by Fred Kaplan
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2015 (2014)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Much misunderstood and all but forgotten by most people today, John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States, deserves a better fate than what has been dealt him by most historians.

In John Quincy Adams: American Visionary, Fred Kaplan tries to give the first son of John and Abigail Adams his due and show that this one term president was a man who was indeed way ahead of his times.

Secretary of State before he entered the White House, and a member of Congress from the time he left it until his death, John Quincy Adams dedicated his entire life to serving his country. A fervent federalist and leading abolitionist, Adams was also an accomplished poet, dedicated diarist, and uncommon scholar whose vision in his first State of the Union address in 1825 called for a comprehensive policy to use tax money to create a national transportation infrastructure, a national university, a naval college, and a Pacific exploratory expedition.

Perhaps because he could not stomach the populist states' rights stance and pro-slavery sentiments of his successor, Andrew Jackson, Adams was lost in the shuffle of former presidents, just as Jimmy Carter has been today. His tenure in office was characterized by the determination of his opponents to not allow him any major public policy achievements. And, as is the case today, a divided government made it all but impossible to get anything done in Washington.

Like many of his contemporaries, Adams kept a diary where he recorded everything from his political activities, religious reflections, and thoughts on books he read, to the details of his personal life.

As Fred Kaplan explains in the book's introduction, Adams' story is one that contains 'a great deal of pain and gloom. But there is also success and brightness.'

Meticulously researched, this biography of John Quincy Adams is not only deeply engaging, but hopefully it also will introduce this extraordinary individual to a generation that hardly recognizes his name and often doesn't know he served his nation as one of its earliest presidents.

Reading about this remarkable statesman as the campaigns for the next presidential run heat up will provide a fascinating counterpoint to the current political scene and the type of candidate who seeks the highest office in the land today.

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