Friends Divided NPR coverage of Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson by Gordon S. Wood. News, author interviews, critics' picks and more.
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Friends Divided

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

by Gordon S. Wood

Hardcover, 512 pages, Penguin Press, List Price: $35 |

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Friends Divided
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John Adams and Thomas Jefferson
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Gordon S. Wood

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Book Summary

"From the great historian of the American Revolution, NYT-bestselling and Pulitzer-winning Gordon Wood, comes a majestic dual biography of two of America's most enduringly fascinating figures, whose partnership helped birth a nation, and whose subsequentfalling out did much to fix its course. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams could scarcely have come from more different worlds, or been more different in temperament. Jefferson, the optimist with enough faith in the innate goodness of his fellow man to be democracy's champion, was an aristocratic Southern slaveowner, while Adams, the overachiever from New England's rising middling classes, painfully aware he was no aristocrat, was a skeptic about popular rule and a defender of a more elitist view of government. They worked closely in the crucible of revolution, crafting the Declaration of Independence and leading, with Franklin, the diplomatic effort that brought France into the fight. But ultimately, their profound differences would lead to a fundamental crisis, in their friendship and in the nation writ large, as they became the figureheads of two entirely new forces, the first American political parties. It was a bitter breach, lasting through the presidential administrations of both men, and beyond"—