Karyn L. Barr
September 10, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

History tends to repeat itself…and apparently, so do history books. In their separate yet oh-so-similarly themed tomes, Ferling and Dunn each hark back to the days of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to relive the election of 1800 — a contentious presidential race that makes the 2000 debacle look like a schoolyard hissy fit. Granted, both authors give detailed accounts of the constitutional struggles, congressional standoff, and Federalist-vs.-Republican chicanery. (Spoiler alert: Jefferson wins.) While Ferling’s pedantic style in Adams vs. Jefferson recalls a boring college lecture, in her book Jefferson’s Second Revolution, Dunn simultaneously teaches and enthralls with her eloquent, five-sensed descriptions of the people and places that shaped our democracy. Adams: C Revolution: B+

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