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Monday, March 17, 2008

HBO's "John Adams"

Last night, I watched the first episode -- "Join or Die" -- of the HBO mini-series, "John Adams."  (The series is based on the popular David McCullough biography.)   Paul Giamatti -- an excellent actor, in my view -- plays Adams, and Laura Linney plays Abigail Adams.  I've been looking forward to the series ever since I first heard about it and, so far, I'm not disappointed.

Last night's episode focused on Adams's role as a defense lawyer for British soldiers charged in connection with the 1770 Boston Massacre.  There were more than enough stirring "rule of law" and "importance of zealous counsel for the accused" moments to justify recommending the episode to first-year law students.  The episode ended with a dramatic speech on "liberty" by Adams (in a church), and with his departure for (I gather) the First Continental Congress.   So far, the show seems to be doing a good job of highlighting Adams's struggle to keep-in-balance his "conservative" (that is, his unease-with-revolution) instincts with his "liberty" commitments.  I'm looking forward to more!  Any other reactions?

Posted by Rick Garnett on March 17, 2008 at 10:13 AM in Constitutional thoughts | Permalink


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I, too, think the HBO Series appears to be a good one. Although I can understand the need to take a little bit of creative license in order to cram this period of history into little 60 and 90 minute segments, it is frutstrating that the producers have opted to just change some basic facts in the interest of making a compelling mini series. For example, in Episode 2, John Adams is shown making an impassioned speech as he nominates Col George Washington of Virginia to be the first leader of a continental army during the 2nd Contintental Congress. According to the journals of this congress and according to Adam's own papers, the individual who nominated Washington to be the first general was Thomas Johnson, a representative from Maryland.

Kind of shame that HBO is making up their own facts here.

Posted by: Steve | Mar 19, 2008 2:27:48 PM

I don't have HBO either. Don't spoil the ending!

Posted by: Bruce Boyden | Mar 17, 2008 12:23:20 PM

Rick, I don't get HBO so I'm going to have to wait for the DVD, but the David McCullough biography is one of my favorite books. Moreover, Adams, I think, is a worthy candidate for being a lawyer-hero, and he became one of mine after I read it.

If one gets into Adams, another really pleasant interlude is the audio tape of the book, somewhat abridged, read by Edward Herrman (although I don't know why David McCullough didn't read it himself as he has an absolutely wonderful voice).

Posted by: Jeff Lipshaw | Mar 17, 2008 10:56:39 AM

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