Books: Best Supporting Actor

David McCullough's John Adams shows the real drama of Revolutionary times

John Adams is hot these days. First came the eerie parallels to the Bushes: a competent but uninspiring Vice President succeeds a charismatic President, serves only one term, is defeated by a liberal Southerner but lives to see his near namesake son restore the dynasty despite losing the popular vote to a populist from Tennessee. Now comes something even more exciting for his reputation: America's most beloved biographer, David McCullough, has plucked Adams from the historical haze, as he did Harry Truman, and produced another masterwork of storytelling that blends colorful narrative with sweeping insights.

Though Adams had the same prickliness...

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