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Democracy / Esther / Mont Saint Michel and Chartres / The Education of Henry Adams

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  117 ratings  ·  11 reviews
This Library of America volume includes the best-known works of Henry Adams, one of the most powerful and original minds to illuminate the American scene from the Civil War to World War I. Now brought together for the first time in a single volume, these works show the many forms—fiction, poetry, philosophical and historical speculation, autobiography—in which Adams gave e ...more
Hardcover, 1246 pages
Published November 15th 1983 by Library of America
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4.23  · 
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 ·  117 ratings  ·  11 reviews

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Jul 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Adams, Henry. THE EDUCATION OF HENRY ADAMS. (1907, privately printed). ***1/2. This is one of those books that everyone should read, but one that keeps being put off because of its size. It is intimidating. It is an exhaustive examination of Adams’ life (with a gap, for some reason) and his eternal quest for what he believes might be an education. As hard as he tries, however, he never feels that he has been educated. He learns lots of things, but that’s different. Nowhere does he offer a defini ...more
May 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Isaiah Berlin said that some people, those who know one thing, are hedgehogs, and some, those who know many things, are foxes. Henry Adams was both. The Library of America Edition has his study of 19th century multiplicity, The Education of Henry Adams, and his work on 13th century unity, Mont St. Michelle and Chartres. How a Boston Brahmin and heir to the Unitarian tradition became interested in Medieval Christianity baffles me, but I love it--there are too few works that combine the two things ...more
May 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Henry Adams’s two novels, DEMOCRACY and ESTHER, although no immortal classics, are workmanlike and enjoyable. The former was widely read at the time for its depiction of political corruption in Washington, and the latter examines the conflicts that arise when a fiercely independent artist falls in love with a minister.

MONT ST. MICHEL AND CHARTRES is Adams’s fascinating reflection on 12th and 13th century architecture, philosophy and society, an interest he mainly acquired when he taught medieval
Gilbert Wesley Purdy
I have not, and probably will not, read either of the novels. Adams's non-fiction works are among the finer ever written by an American. Mont St. Michel and Chartres is a late and eccentric work. Its beauties made it a precursor to quite a number of such books on Medieval churches and monasteries. Together with Ruskin's Bible of Amiens, the book probably created a sub-genre. The Education of Henry Adams is an autobiography and European and American history, written in the third person, by someon ...more
Paul Jellinek
Oct 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable compilation of four books, three of which I have now read (have not yet read "Esther"). "Democracy" is fun and fairly accessible--maybe 3 stars--but "St. Michelle" and "The Education" are on a whole other level (6 stars each, which together with "Democracy" averages out to a 5 :)). Neither is exactly "fun," but both are richly rewarding in their own inimitable way, and both are laced with Adams's dry (and at times caustic) wit. I read "The Education" twice because I had the flu the ...more
Shawn Thrasher
Mar 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read Democracy and was absorbed by it. Adams's book is a juicy, provocative example of the old proverb "the more things change, the more they stay the same" applied to American political power. Written in 1880, (until 1918 published anonymously) the book has an incredibly modern feel to it; the same political perils that haunt our democracy now -- influence, money, power, sex scandal - were alive and well in 1880 too. It's not simply a political treatise though; the characters are incredibly w ...more
Gary Land
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Adams is not the most scintillating author but he wrote thoughtful books that are well worth reading. Democracy and Esther are minor novels that nonetheless give insight into post civil war America. The Education similarly offers a picture of the changes, mostly intellectual, that took place over the nineteenth century, though told from the standpoint of a disillusioned essentially 18th century mind. Never having visited Chartres cathedral I found the first half of that book difficult to underst ...more
Shala Howell
Jun 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
Have only read Esther in this collection. Read it because Henry based its main character on his wife Clover Adams. It fascinates me that he left her almost completely out of his Education (a tidbit I learned after reading a biography of Clover and verified by skimming Education), so I wanted to know what Henry would say when he was willing to write of her.
May 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
An heir to the Adams name give us the tale of his life and the American landscape from between the mid-19th century through the early 20th century.

This wonderful and very personal account presents America's civil turmoils, its industrialization, and the rise of modernity through the prism of a man whose name harks back to a by-gone Revolutionary era.
Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A classic in autobiography. A bit disingenuous at times but nonetheless a rare and exceptional glimpse into the life of one of the most interesting people living around the turn of the century.
Martin Bihl
Jun 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Democracy - finished 06/30/13

Esther - finished 06/11/14

Mont St. Michel & Chartres - finished 11/23/15

The Education of Henry Adams - finished 08/26/16

Poems - finished 01/08/17
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Henry Brooks Adams was born into one of the oldest and most distinguished families in Boston, a family which had produced two American presidents, giving him the opportunity to pursue a wide-ranging variety of intellectual interests during the course of his life. Functionin