john-adams.jpgAs a true history geek, I’m looking forward to HBO’s adaptation of David McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography John Adams that starts this coming Sunday, March 16. Starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney as John and Abigail, the early buzz sounds very positive.

There is much that is wonderful in “John Adams,” which was produced by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, who also launched HBO’s 2001 miniseries “Band of Brothers.” Giamatti and Linney brilliantly portray the tenderness, loneliness, and passionate understanding that marked John and Abigail’s half century of marriage. Eighteenth-century Boston, and much else besides, is beautifully realized: lush and bustling, with ships’ masts looming and halyards clanking. If there’s a film that better captures the look of Colonial America, I haven’t seen it.

Most of us would probably put Adams on the second tier of the Founding Fathers behind Jefferson, Washington and Franklin. Executive producer Tom Hanks felt the same before filming began. His opinion has changed since working on the film:

“If I had been told this at any time in my educational career, it would have blown my little skull.”


What a great reason to use the film as part of your instruction!

HBO has sent out 10,000 educational kits to schools and teachers around the country, if you didn’t get yours yet there are several places to go to get lesson plans and teaching suggestions.

HBO’s site provides both teacher’s and student’s guides as well as info concerning the making of the film. Time for Kids has also put together a teaching kit based on the film. Because much of John Adams focuses on the letters between John and Abigail, the US Postal Service has created a site called the Power of the Letter that provides some nice historical background.

And finally The New Yorker and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review have posted a great review and a Q & A with David McCullough.