Paul Nagel's Descent from Glory was an extraordinary critical and popular success, a Book-of-the-Month Club main selection hailed by reviewers as "magnificent" (The New York Times Book Review) and "splendid" (The Christian Science Monitor). That book focused on the men in the Adams family, but many readers--and Nagel himself--felt that the most interesting and stirring part of the Adams family saga was the story of the women. Here at last is the book many readers urged Nagel to write: the full story of some of the most interesting and important and articulate women in American history. This is no mere sequel to the first book; it is an attempt to do justice in their own right to some extraordinary individuals in their own right who happened to be women and whose personal lives and outlooks have been eclipsed by the famous men who surrounded them.
Nagel portrays his subjects as they saw themselves and each other. This is possible because of the abundant comment and confession they shared with each other, much of it surviving in the Adams Papers. They spoke to one another about their existence with a frankness and detail which is unmatched in American historical sources. We find them in the joy, sorrow, dreariness, and peril which came to females of that era, no matter who they were. Thus this intimate and candid portrait may be our nearest approach to how American females actally lived and thought between 1750 and 1850.