Review: ‘The Revolutionary’ chronicles key Founding Father

“The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams” by Stacy Schiff (Little, Brown and Co.)

Aside from the namesake beer, Samuel Adams in many ways feels like the forgotten Founding Father. Despite his contributions, no biography was written about him until about six decades after his death and no statue erected until the Revolution’s centennial.

With “The Revolutionary,” historian Stacy Schiff seeks to remedy that with a biography that details Adams’ hand in inspiring the Revolution.

Schiff creates a detailed narrative of the role that Adams played in a crucial part of the Revolution, not on the battlefield but in winning over hearts and minds to the cause of independence.

From his role in the Tea Party to the Stamp Act protests, Schiff helps expand on the growing shelf of Founding Father biographies that are shaping popular culture.

Early on in the book, Schiff takes one of the most well-worn moments in American history — Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride in 1775 — and makes it feel new again. She describes how the ride was to warn Adams that he was about to be arrested for treason.

She also explores how and why Adams, despite his vital role, faded from public imagination in the years after his death. It describes how he was viewed as someone more interested in the ideas that inspired the Revolution than the institutions that followed.

As Schiff describes it, Adams “helped to erect the intellectual architecture of a republic but had neither gift for nor interest in its political design.” It’s hard to put down Schiff’s book without a newfound appreciation for just how important that role was for the nation’s birth.

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