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Strong from the Beginning

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National Reviiew

Mackubin Thomas Owens

Jan. 3 2015


In his 2004 book Surprise, Security, and the American Experience, John Lewis Gaddis called John Quincy Adams “the most influential American grand strategist of the 19th century.” Charles Edel, a professor at my former institution, the U.S. Naval War College, fleshes out Gaddis’s argument in his remarkable new work Nation Builder: John Quincy Adams and the Grand Strategy of the Republic. Edel has written a book I wish I had written: a dual biography, of Adams and of the early American republic.


John Quincy Adams was one of the most remarkable men ever to engage in the public life of the republic. The son of John and Abigail Adams, John Quincy served as a diplomat, secretary of state under James Monroe, president from 1825 to 1829, and member of the House of Representatives from 1831 until his death in 1848.


Edel describes the arc of Adams’s career in tandem with the development of the United States. In his telling, the two are inseparable.



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