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Samuel Adams: Father of the American Revolution    by Mark Puls order for
Samuel Adams
by Mark Puls
Order:  USA  Can
Palgrave Macmillan, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Ask most Americans in 2006, 'Who was Samuel Adams?' and you will probably hear little more than, 'I have no idea.' On the other hand, given many Americans' post-modern detachment from historical studies and their preference instead for pleasures of the here-and-now, some Americans with a taste for adult beverages may actually answer, 'Oh, yeah, isn't he the guy on the beer label?'

Well, contemporary trademarks and marketing notwithstanding, Samuel Adams of Boston, Massachusetts, was a very important figure in American history, and it's disappointing that American history has treated him with what amounts to indifference (and occasional antipathy) during the past century or two. Historians have been unkind to Adams over the years; they have turned their back on the nearly absolute fact that without Samuel Adams - one could argue - there would have been no eighteenth century assertion of independence from Great Britain, no American Revolution, and no United States of America.

Yes, he was that important. And now - in a riveting biography by Mark Puls - readers can rediscover the political and organizational genius who was just as important in America's formative years as the better known names: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams.

Focusing on Samuel Adams' writings and tactics, Puls shows how a determined and brilliant colonist laid down the foundations for independence, almost single-handedly became the catalyst for revolution, and made liberty the cornerstone of American political philosophy and constitutional doctrine. In fact, it is 'unlikely that the break with England in 1776 would have occurred without' Adams. He was, however, not a starry-eyed zealot who was obsessed with trying to change the world; instead, he was simply 'attempting to preserve rights he believed the colonists already possessed.' Moreover, he saw the inevitable struggle with Great Britain as a struggle for economic autonomy.

Puls is a writer whose passionate respect for Samuel Adams comes through in every well-crafted sentence, paragraph, and chapter. In a compact study of 240 pages, even though his subject was indifferent about his place in history and left no memoirs, autobiography, or collections of letters for posterity's sake, Puls has done his exhaustive research in a commendable manner and has carefully constructed a solidly coherent, highly readable, and important biography of a great American hero. This book should be required reading for anyone interested in American history.

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