David Potter

The famed historian, who died last month, began his career as a Marxist and finished it as a conservative Catholic.

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America Made Easy

John Adams By David McCullough (Simon & Schuster, 751 pp., $35) I. At the height of the XYZ Affair in 1798, when American public outrage against France verged on war hysteria, President John Adams briefly enjoyed the sort of popular acclaim that he had long thought he deserved. In Paris, the French foreign minister Talleyrand had tried to bribe three American envoys sent by Adams to negotiate an end to continuing maritime hostilities between the two erstwhile allies.

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