Even for supposedly objective historians, it has often been difficult to remain neutral about Sam Adams. He was an inspiring orator or a demagogue inflaming the mob. He was a brilliant organizer or an unprincipled manipulator. Alexander gratifyingly avoids the pitfalls of easy categorization. Still, in a generally admiring biography, he convincingly asserts two consistent aspects of Adams' career. First, he was a political animal, who felt most alive when organizing, negotiating, and when necessary, compromising to achieve his goals. Second, he was a true revolutionary, who viewed the arena of politics as a means for transforming American society in accordance with republican principles. His hopes extended beyond simple independence from Britain. Within those parameters, Alexander examines Adams' activities during and after the revolution as he dealt with a variety of issues, including slavery, the rights of women, and foreign affairs. Alexander also makes clear that Adams was no austere, cold Robespierre but a man with a vibrant personal life. A well-done re-examination of the life of an American icon.