Stacy Schiff on Samuel Adams

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

6:30 pm

1201: Elebash Recital Hall

Open to the Public

In conversation with Kai Bird

Headshots of Stacey Schiff and Kai Bird with the book cover for "The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams"
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Thomas Jefferson asserted that if there was any leader of the Revolution, “Samuel Adams was the man.” A singular figure at a singular moment, Adams packaged and amplified the Boston Massacre. He helped to mastermind the Boston Tea Party. He employed every tool in an innovative arsenal to rally a town, a colony, and eventually a band of colonies behind him, creating the cause that created a country. For his efforts he became the most wanted man in America: When Paul Revere rode to Lexington in 1775, it was to warn Samuel Adams that he was about to be arrested for treason. 

In The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams, Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer Stacy Schiff brings her masterful skills to Adams’s improbable life, illuminating his transformation from aimless son of a well-off family to tireless, beguiling radical who mobilized the colonies. Arresting, original, and deliriously dramatic, this is a long-overdue chapter in the history of our nation.

Stacy Schiff has garnered universal acclaim for her style and scholarship in biographies of such figures as Cleopatra, Ben Franklin and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Her life of Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov), won the Pulitzer Prize; Saint-Exupéry, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist; and A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America, won the George Washington Book Prize and the Ambassador Book Award.  A number one bestseller, Cleopatra: A Life appeared on most end of year best books lists, including the New York Times'sTop Ten Books of 2010, and won the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for biography. Her most recent book was the number one bestseller, The Witches: Salem, 1692 which The New York Times hailed as “an almost novelistic, thriller-like narrative.” A NYPL Library Lion, a Boston Public Library Literary Light, a recipient of an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Newberry Library Award winner, she was named a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government. 

Kai Bird co-authored with Martin J. Sherwin the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Knopf, 2005). A major motion picture based on this biography is scheduled to appear in 2023. He has also written biographies of John J. McCloy and McGeorge Bundy—and a memoir, Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis (Scribner, 2010). The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames appeared in 2014. His biography of President Jimmy Carter, The Outlier: the Unfinished Presidency of Jimmy Carter, was published in June of 2021 by Crown Books.