A United States minister, senator, president, and congress in turn, John Quincy Adams was one of the most prevalent and dedicated Americans in history. Drawing from Adams seventy-year diary, author Paul Nagel probes deeply into the psyche of this cantankerous, misanthropic, erudite, hardworking son of a former president whose remarkable career spanned so many offices. We learn about his passionate marriage to Louisa Johnson, his personal tragedies, including two sons lost to alcoholism, his recurring depression, exasperating behavior, and brilliant diplomacy. We see his frustration with the political life and the pleasure he drew from being a poet, critic, translator, essayist, botanist, and professor of oratory at Harvard. Nagel's great achievement, in this first biography of America's sixth president in a quarter century, is finally to portray Adams in all his talent and complexity.