I wish it were still acceptable to write about history with the power and passion with which Page Smith wrote about John Adams in 1962. Writing about Adams in his later years, his Adams is "Tenacious of life, like a blasted oak on his beloved hill, life burned in him, distant, remote, hardly discernible."
Continuing the arboreal imagery, Smith depicts a lively man despite the ravages of life on his physical body. "In the blasted tree, the sap still ran strong as a tide and the mind, still mercifully keen, turned over and over with always fresh wonder the riddle of life, of what God had revealed and what God had veiled."
It's difficult to express how much I love this writing. It makes me Adams come to life, even as that very life is slowly draining from him as he sits in his home in Braintree.
Are there any biographers still writing in the Smith style? Maybe Caro, although he certainly brings a more modern tone. Either way, it's a beautiful style and I'm genuinely excited to see where Smith takes me.