Review: “The Revolutionary” profiles a key founding father

“Revolutionary: Samuel Adams” by Stacey Schiff (Little, Brown and Co.) In addition to the beer of the same name, Samuel Adams has many…

The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams by Stacey Schiff (Little, Brown and Co.)

Aside from the beer of the same name, Samuel Adams feels like a forgotten founding father in many ways. Despite his contribution, a biography of him was not written until six decades after his death, and a statue was not erected until the centenary of the revolution.

In The Revolutionary, historian Stacey Schiff seeks to remedy that with a biography detailing Adams’ role in inspiring the Revolution.

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

From his role in the Tea Party to the protests against the Stamp Act, Schiff is helping to expand the shelf of biographies of the founding fathers that shape popular culture.

Early in the book, Schiff takes one of the most outdated moments in American history—Paul Revere’s famous trip north in 1775—and makes it feel new again.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

She also explores how and why Adams, despite ​​his pivotal role, disappeared from the public imagination in the years after his death. It describes how he was seen as someone more interested in the ideas that inspired the revolution than the institutions that followed it.

As Schiff describes it, Adams “helped build the intellectual architecture of the republic but had neither the talent nor the interest in its political design.” It’s hard to walk away from Schiff’s book without a new appreciation of just how important this role was to the birth of a nation.

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