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

David S. Brown. Scribner, $30 (464p) ISBN 978-1-98212-823-4
Historian Brown (Paradise Lost: A Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald) delivers a splendid biography of Harvard professor and memoirist Henry Adams (1838–1918). The direct descendant of two presidents and a diplomat, Adams, who is best known for his autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams, sardonically referred to himself as a “failure.” Yet he managed to emerge from his prominent family’s shadow and make a worthy and memorable life for himself, Brown reveals. He vividly describes Adams’s milieu during a period of sweeping social change in America, detailing his marriage to socialite and photographer Marian “Clover” Hooper, who committed suicide in 1885; his friendships with Henry James, Edith Wharton, and Henry Cabot Lodge; and his travels in Cuba, Japan, Russia, and the South Pacific. Brown also tracks how Adams’s views on the Civil War shifted during his tenure as his father’s personal secretary in London, and notes his stances against the spoils system, the gold standard, and imperialism, as well as his ethnic and racial prejudices. The fully fleshed-out Adams that emerges in these pages is irascible, self-contradictory, and always fascinating. Readers will be thrilled by this standout portrait of the man and his era. Agent: Chris Calhoun, Chris Calhoun Agency (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 08/31/2020
Release date: 11/24/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-1683-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-7971-1685-3
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