HBO's 'John Adams' Takes Fresh Look at Founding Father

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.

Something really to look forward to this weekend! Read it all.


Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Politics in General

7 comments on “HBO's 'John Adams' Takes Fresh Look at Founding Father

  1. Dee in Iowa says:

    Read the book and if the film is half as good, worth watching….

  2. Chris Hathaway says:

    John Adams is one of our most underrated Presidents.

  3. Words Matter says:

    Thanks for bringing back old memories of the musical [i]1776[/i], and it’s tender scenes between the Adamses. There was a time I could sing the whole score from heart, but now I can only remember that she wrote needing pins for her sewing. 🙂

  4. Sue Martinez says:

    The Los Angeles Times had a review today by Mary McNamara, who said wistfully, “If only it were more interesting.”
    [blockquote] Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography by David McCullough, it follows, in seven episodes, the adult life of the man often considered the most influential and, ironically, least well-known of our country’s founders. It is gorgeous, precise and at times poetic. They get mired in historic detail and hobble their characters, who become as one-dimensional in their failings as they are so often portrayed in their patriotism..[/blockquote]

  5. Florida Anglican [Support Israel] says:

    I loved 1776, the musical! Even got to play Martha Jefferson once. Thank you for bringing back sooo many fond memories.

  6. Summersnow says:

    I have long been an admirer of Abigail Adams. For Christmas, my husband gave me a copy of My Dearest Friend, Letters of Abigail and John Adams edited by M. Hogan and C.J. Taylor. It has been amazing to read the correspondence between these two extraordinary people.

    Unfortunately we do not have HBO on our cable. I will content myself to look for it on DVD later in the year.


  7. Ad Orientem says:

    RE #2
    I concur. I have always liked him and I have a generally low opinion of his successor (Jefferson) as president. A lot of my presidential ratings are a bit at odds with your usual historians.