"This is a story of declension: the inter-generational devolution of a great American family line. In vivid and graceful prose, Douglas Egerton recounts the political and moral decay of the Adamses. In his time, John Quincy Adams became a leading, even heroic figure in the fight against slavery, a fight that eventually achieved victory through civil war. But in later years, his descendants turned their back on the principles that animated that struggle. In doing so, they paralleled and illuminated the retreat of the northern business and political elite as a whole from the goals of the nation's second democratic revolution."
—Bruce Levine, authorof The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolutionthat Transformed the South