The Last American Aristocrat: The Brilliant Life and Improbable Education of Henry Adams

The Last American Aristocrat: The Brilliant Life and Improbable Education of Henry Adams

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A revelatory biography of literary icon Henry Adams—one of America’s most prominent writers and intellectuals of his era, who witnessed and contributed to America’s dramatic transition from “colonial” to “modern.”

Henry Adams is perhaps the most eclectic, accomplished, and important American writer of his time. His autobiography and modern classic The Education of Henry Adams was widely considered one of the best English-language nonfiction books of the 20th century. The last member of his distinguished family—after great-grandfather John Adams, and grandfather John Quincy Adams—to gain national attention, he is remembered today as an historian, a political commentator, and a memoirist.

Now, historian David Brown sheds light on the brilliant yet under-celebrated life of this major American intellectual. Adams not only lived through the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution but he met Abraham Lincoln, bowed before Queen Victoria, and counted powerful figures, including Secretary of State John Hay, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, and President Theodore Roosevelt as friends and neighbors. His observations of these men and their policies in his private letters provide a penetrating assessment of Gilded Age America on the cusp of the modern era.

The Last American Aristocrat details Adams’s relationships with his wife (Marian “Clover” Hooper) and, following her suicide, Elizabeth Cameron, the young wife of a senator and part of the famous Sherman clan from Ohio. Henry Adams’s letters—thousands of them—demonstrate his struggles with depression, familial expectations, and reconciling with his unwanted widower’s existence.

Presenting intimate and insightful details of a fascinating and unusual American life and a new window on nineteenth century US history, The Last American Aristocrat shows us a more “modern” and “human” Henry Adams than ever before.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781797116853
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date: 11/24/2020
Sales rank: 814,115
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Jacques Roy is a audio narrator and actor, known for The Lower Angels and Room and Board.

David Brown teaches history at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. He is the author of several books including The Last American Aristocrat; Paradise Lost: A Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald; and Richard Hofstadter: An Intellectual Biography.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Prelude: Back to Beverly 9

Part I Becoming Henry Adams


1 Quincy 15

2 Party of One 21

3 The Madam 25

4 Heroes 31

5 Harvard 37


6 Germany 47

7 Italy 55

8 Washington 63

9 London 71

10 The Correspondent 79


11 Going South, Coming Home 89

12 The Race Question 95

13 Waiting on Another Washington 101

14 The High Road to Reform 109

15 Following the Money 113


16 The Professor 125

17 The Insurgent 133

18 Clover 139

19 Essays in Anglo-Saxon Law 147

20 Political Adieu 153

21 Filial Piety 161

22 Emancipation 167


23 Hearts Play 175

24 Gallatin 181

25 Democracy 187

26 Second Heart 195

27 Back to Bizarre 201

28 Between Science and Salvation 207

29 The New House 215

30 Empty Heart 221

Part II Performing Henry Adams


31 The Posthumous Life 233

32 Japan 237

33 The Historians Tale 245

34 Babes in Paradise 255

35 The First Law of Tame Cats 265

36 What the Sphinx Said 273


37 Chicago 283

38 The Gold-Bugs 289

39 "My Cuba" 297

40 The Tyranny of Science 303

41 The Felt Experience 309

42 Blame 313


43 The Jingo 327

44 Silent and Infinite Force 333

45 Lamb among Lions 337

46 In the Land of the Czars 343


47 None but the Saints 351

48 Stranded 357

49 Bocjk of Illusions 365

50 There Was a Boy 373

51 To Finish the Game 379

52 The Rest in Silence 385

Acknowledgments 393

Notes 395

Index 425

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