Book Review: John Adams Under Fire by Dan Adams (Four Stars)

Book Review: John Adams Under Fire: The Founding Father’s Fight for Justice in the Boston Massacre Murder Trial by Dan Adams and David Fisher (Four Stars)

“Counsel ought to be the very last thing that an accused person should want in a free country… The bar ought…to be independent and impartial at all times and in every circumstance.” JA

A dry, over-detailed analysis of a trial 250 years ago. What possible relevance or interest might it have to Americans today? Lot.

“It was a love of universal liberty, and a hatred, a dread, a horror of the infernal confederacy…that projected, conducted and accomplished the settlement of America.” JA

In 1770 John Adams defended nine British soldiers accused of killing five men during the so-called Boston Massacre. No one doubted the lethal shots came from the soldiers’ muskets; Sam Adams, leading Boston patriot, wanted ‘blood for blood’; If Young John Adams took the defense he’d ruin his budding law career and jeopardize his place among those leaning ever more toward independence. He did anyway. And he won.

“Representative government and trial by jury are the heart and lungs of liberty.” JA

Dan Adams meticulously documents how John Adams and Boston got to that point. In the process the reader learns how common law and English law became American law. And how the least-likeable Founder become a beacon for justice for all, and “reasonable doubt” appeared as a judicial standard.

“Adams had proved his fidelity to a much greater cause: in the words of the Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero, ‘We are all servants of the laws in order to be free.’”

Modern parallels abound. Hypocrisy, interfering governments, biased media reporting, conspiracy theories, public outcry and pressure. History matters.

“Yet John Adams took the defense, even though he knew it would cost him business and stature among the growing independence movement. It the short term it did, but his careful and successful defense started him on the road to leadership in the nation that was birthing.”