Kwame's Reviews > Democracy: An American Novel

Democracy by Henry Adams
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Mar 03, 12

Read in March, 2012

For reasons that I have yet to understand, the contemporary American author cannot write a satisfactory novel about the arts of political chicane in Washington. Maybe the inhibition is instilled at birth, or during the first two years of infancy. More probably it is the result of the mass media's tireless insistence that politicians, especially presidents, must be swathed in the ornamental drapery of a late Roman emperor. Adams understood that American politicians were mortal, possibly because both his grandfather and greatgrandfather had been presidents, and he knew the difference between a private and a public voice. Of the society in the nation's capital, Adams once observed:

"What makes a long residence in Washington so bad for one's temper is the horrible display of vanity, especially among the men. If ever, once, in all these forty years that I have known statesmen, I had met one solitary individual who thought, even at intervals, of anyone or anything but himself, I would forgive him as a sad example of human eccentricity, and say no word against him."
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