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The Education of Henry Adams

af Henry Adams

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'Every generalisation that we settled forty years ago, is abandoned'As a journalist, historian and novelist born into a family that included two past presidents of the United States, Henry Adams was constantly focused on the American experiment. An immediate bestseller awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1919, his The Education of Henry Adams (1918) recounts his own andthe country's education from 1838, the year of his birth, to 1905, incorporating the Civil War, capitalist expansion and the growth of the United States as a world power. Exploring America as both a success and a failure, contradiction was the very impetus that compelled Adams to write theEducation, in which he was also able to voice his deep scepticism about mankind's power to control the direction of history. Written with immense wit and irony, reassembling the past while glimpsing the future, Adams's vision expresses what Henry James declared the `complex fate' to be an American,and remains one of the most compelling works of American autobiography today.… (mere)
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Viser 1-5 af 44 (næste | vis alle)
If you know a lot about the history of the second half of the 19th century, you will probably enjoy this book much more than the casual and the curious, as Adams does a lot of name-dropping without any kind of footnotes or contextual explanation. I was especially interested in Adams' description of his time as private secretary to his father, Charles Francis Adams, Lincoln's ambassador in England during the Civil War, and the diplomatic and political machinations that ocurred while trying to secure Britain's official neutrality.

There are some slow parts of the book, and his attempt to conclude with an overarching theory of history, detailed in scientific language, is unsuccessful in hindsight. Adams' ideas about the accelerating progress of technology and thought is really the culmination of Englightenment thinking, which would be disavowed by the modernists ten years after his death. Perhaps Adams would have revised his thinking if he had lived to see the cataclysm of 1914, and it is ironic how in the last lines of the book he wistfully hopes for a centenial reunion with his best friends King and Hay, to observe the progress and peace that humanity had created. The year: 1938. ( )
  jonbrammer | Jul 1, 2023 |
superb book
  ddonahue | Nov 30, 2022 |
I'd first heard of Adams in Gore Vidal's novel "Empire". That novel introduced me to people like John Hay, Secretary to Lincoln, and later Secretary of State itself. These memoirs enlightened me about the stellar politician John Hay was, thanks to the lifelong friendship between Adams and Hay.
Adams centres his memoirs on his rather barren quest to find meaning and understanding through "education". This theme tends to become tiresome.
Adams' period as Private Secretary to his father, First Minister to Great Britain during the Civil War, is especially revealing. How close the British were to declaring for the Confederacy surprised me. Similarly, how surprised were the British by the Union's successes.
He is fully admiring of John Hay, to whom he gives credit for advancing American skill and intelligence in the diplomatic manoeuvrings that produced an alliance, or at least a commonality of understanding, between Britain, France, Germany and USA at the beginning of the Twentieth Century.
I was a little confused by Adams' dynamic theory of history, but then so was he by the seismic shifts brought about by particle physics and the industrial behemoth.
Adams' life was his ever-flowering education.
  ivanfranko | Aug 18, 2022 |
Adams was born in 1838 into a family that had made American history, but his role was to be that of an observer, from the Civil War up to 1905. Perhaps the most interesting section comes early on, when Henry was serving as secretary to his father, who was US minister to Britain during the Civil War. Adams' discussion of Britain's role in that conflict broke new ground for me: I knew much of the British establishment supported the South, but I didn't know how close the Liberal Government came to recognizing the South as a country. Henry was in Washington during the Grant Administration, and his view of Grant is highly negative. He was also an intimate observer in the 1890's. Sometimes Adams' negativity (about himself more than anything else) becomes burdensome, and one misses the personal element. Still, this is key reading for those interested in the period. ( )
  annbury | May 20, 2022 |
Henry Adams, the grandson of JQ Adams, records the story of his life from the perspective of his search for a proper education. His is a life of privilege, allowing him the time to ponder the world and his role in it without the encumbrance of traditional employment. He questions formal education, like his time at Harvard, and feels most of what is taught is useless at best. Adams, because of his lineage, has a front-row seat to observe the events of the nineteenth century, and at times foresees problems on the world stage. Although he has no need for an income, he does earn money by writing his observations.

I'm glad I read the book. It represents a unique perspective. I didn't think it was particularly well written, but I do acknowledge that he never meant it to be published for a wide distribution. That could explain its rough edges. I found that I needed assistance to get through it, so I approached each chapter by reading a Cliff Notes summary first, just to get my head around where he was heading, then I opened up the LibriVox recording and listened while I was reading. That helped immensely. Recently I read an article that encouraged a reader to stretch themselves every once in a while. This book was once of those times for me. ( )
  peggybr | Sep 4, 2021 |
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Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
Henry Adamsprimær forfatteralle udgaverberegnet
Lodge, Henry CabotForordmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Morris, EdmundIntroduktionmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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Under the shadow of Boston State House, turning its back on the house of John Hancock, the little passage called Hancock Avenue runs, or ran, from Beacon Street, skirting the State House grounds, to Mount Vernon Street, on the summit of Beacon Hill; and there, in the third house below Mount Vernon Place, February 16, 1838, a child was born, and christened later by his uncle, the minister of the First Church after the tenets of Boston Unitarianism, as Henry Brooks Adams.
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'Every generalisation that we settled forty years ago, is abandoned'As a journalist, historian and novelist born into a family that included two past presidents of the United States, Henry Adams was constantly focused on the American experiment. An immediate bestseller awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1919, his The Education of Henry Adams (1918) recounts his own andthe country's education from 1838, the year of his birth, to 1905, incorporating the Civil War, capitalist expansion and the growth of the United States as a world power. Exploring America as both a success and a failure, contradiction was the very impetus that compelled Adams to write theEducation, in which he was also able to voice his deep scepticism about mankind's power to control the direction of history. Written with immense wit and irony, reassembling the past while glimpsing the future, Adams's vision expresses what Henry James declared the `complex fate' to be an American,and remains one of the most compelling works of American autobiography today.

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