JEFFREY BROWN: Did you have a chance to read many of those letters we mentioned? And what did you see in them?
PAUL GIAMATTI: Well, I did. I got to read as many of the Abigail and John letters, which are extraordinarily intelligent and loving. And she’s an extraordinary — kind of more extraordinary than he is, in a lot of ways, I mean, stronger in a lot of ways than he is.
The Jefferson letters are fascinating, in a lot of ways because you definitely sense that they’re guys who know that they’re going to be taken by posterity and examined in depth. You know, they’re talking for the historical record, in a way, which is fascinating, but very wonderful debates.
JEFFREY BROWN: David McCullough, it was the letters between John and Abigail that really gave you a way into your book, wasn’t it?
DAVID MCCULLOUGH, Author: Yes, I’d read a lot that other people had written about John Adams, other historians and biographers. And they’re very good, many of them superb.
But it wasn’t until I got into what they themselves wrote that I realized how much, as Paul just said, how much humanity is there and that I wanted to tell that story. I wanted to give credit where I felt was long overdue, one of the most remarkable — two of the most remarkable Americans ever.
And what a story. It’s a biographer’s dream. And I’ve had subjects that I’ve greatly enjoyed. I’ve been very lucky in my subjects over the years. But I don’t think I ever had a book out of which I learned so much or during which I had such a wonderful time being in that 18th century, being with those brilliant people.