The Education of Henry Adams


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The Adams Family

Author Info: Henry Brooks Adams We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.

Lewis , The Abolition of Man It may not be possible to like Henry Adams, but it is certainly possible to empathize with him. A grandson and great grandson of Presidents, the bar was set impossibly high for him at birth.

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The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams - Free Ebook

The closest thing we have to him today is probably Ted Kennedy, and look at what an utter hash he's made out of his life. The problems of Henry Adams were, presumably, of a different order, mostly having to do with the feeling that he could not understand the modern Industrial world, but his general feeling of having failed to achieve as much as his ancestors likely contributed, as did the unexpected suicide of his wife.

Henry Adams - Inaugural Nagel Lecture

Meanwhile, he need not have felt this inadequacy so sorely. But it is The Education on which his modern reputation rests, and quite a reputation it is.


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This third person autobiography was a phenomenal bestseller when it was published, posthumously, and was named the number one book on the Modern Library list of Best Nonfiction Books of the 20th Century. That is a record of accomplishment to rival just about any writer. As for the book, it's easy to see why it is so highly regarded, particularly among cultural elites, but it is also badly flawed; and its flaws are by and large those that made the 20th century one of the bloodiest and most turbulent in human history.

The greatness of the book, besides the magnificent style, really lies in the degree to which it captures the quandary of the modern intellectual. Its weakness lies in its utter failure to address that quandary.

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Adams must be one of the few men to ever inhabit three centuries. His brother Brooks Adams was also a historian and social critic of note. Henry Adams had received the finest formal education available in the United States, enjoying many other advantages, as well. This social context makes The Education so important, but the trappings of success did not mean much to a restless individualist such as Adams.

The Education of Henry Adams

Rather than take advantage of his patrician name, he sized up this and other advantages and found them wanting. Close Cookie Notice. This website uses cookies as well as similar tools and technologies to understand visitors' experiences.

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The Education of Henry Adams The Education of Henry Adams
The Education of Henry Adams The Education of Henry Adams
The Education of Henry Adams The Education of Henry Adams
The Education of Henry Adams The Education of Henry Adams
The Education of Henry Adams The Education of Henry Adams

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