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A Political Companion to Henry Adams (Political Companions to Great American Authors) Hardcover – August 23, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0813125909 ISBN-10: 0813125901

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Editorial Reviews


"A superb collection of essays on Henry Adams that demonstrates his lasting contribution to American political thought and literature." -- Mary P. Nichols, author of Socrates on Friendship and Community: Reflections on Plato's Symposium, Phaedrus, and Lysis

"Anyone who picks up this volume will be inspired to revisit the work of one of the United States' most puzzlingly neglected authors." -- Susan McWilliams, associate professor of politics, Pomona College

"Taylor brings together new scholarship on Henry Adams with seminal essays from the past, establishing Adams as one of America's great thinkers about history, art, and politics. These essays demonstrate how Adams's attempt to come to terms with the changes he saw in 19th century America help us to understand not only our history as a nation but our own regime more generally, its potentials and limits." -- Mary Nichols, author of Socrates on Friendship and Community: Reflections on Plato's Symposium, Phaedrus, and Lysis, Baylor University

"Students of American political thought these days don't read much Henry Adams. As the essays edited by Natalie Taylor show, they should. Henry Adams brought a rare combination of literary talent, historical erudition, and deep reflection to bear in not merely describing, but pondering the fate of the American republic." -- Catherine Zuckert, Nancy Reeves Dreux Professor of Politcal Science, Notre Dame University

"A Political Companion to Henry Adams collects ten essays that examine 'the literary statesmanship' of one of the most gifted, mercurial, and multidisciplinary minds ever to appear in America. No assessment of Henry Adams's achievement is possible without a thorough grounding in the traditions of political thought on which his work draws, yet it is exactly that dimension which readers commonly find most obscure. Assembling contributions from distinguished authorities with those of promising younger scholars, this volume provides welcome explication of the notoriously evasive ideological life of Adams's historical narratives, fiction, autobiography, and travel writing. Its publication is an important event in Henry Adams scholarship." -- William Merrill Decker, author of The Literary Vocation of Henry Adams, Oklahoma State University

"Wisely eschewing the efforts Henry Adams himself made to suggest he ought not be taken too seriously, this volume of essays--some reprinted classics, others new--reveals the deep questions about the United States that animated Adams' literary career. That the authors do not always see eye to eye only serves to illuminate more clearly the important moral questions Adams struggled with as he attempted to understand the history and fate of his nation. Whether trying to distinguish between statesman and politician, understanding the relationship between our republican and liberal roots, or evaluating the ethical and political impact of science and technology, we continue to struggle with Adams' questions today, so through this book we gain insight into Adams and ourselves. Editor Natalie Taylor makes a bold claim when she says that 'Although he never held office, Henry Adams remains one of America's great statesmen,' but her fine collection vindicates it." -- Charles Rubin, Duquesne University

"She has collected works by some of the leading political thinkers in America who challenge conventional thinking about life of Henry Adams and credit with revealing key insights into the nation's evolving democracy." -- Scope Online

"While all of the essays are strong and commeneded to the attention of Adams scholars, particularly noteworthy contributions include... analysis of the place of fraternity, sacrifice, love, and community in regard to Adam's broader understanding of politics. Highly Recommended." -- Choice

From the Inside Flap

In spite of his venerable political lineage that included U.S. Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, Henry Adams is frequently ignored as a serious political thinker. Often dismissed by scholars as an acerbic and disappointed man who was a mere observer of American politics, history portrays Adam much like he described himself: as a "stable-companion to statesmen". A Political Companion to Henry illuminates Adams' writings and philosophy, revealing that he was far more under his exterior.

In this provocative collection, editor Natalie Fuehrer Taylor presents works by some of the leading political thinkers in America today -- scholars who challenge conventional judgments about the life and work of Henry Adams and credit him with revealing key insights into the nation's evolving democracy. A Political Companion to Henry Adams analyzes the political thinker and writer through the lenses of government, history, political science, and literature.

Coming of age during the Civil War, Henry Adams was an onlooker to the corrupt politics that ensued during the Gilded Age. In his declining years, he witnessed the rise of technology and anticipated the profound consequences technology would have on the American character. His personal experiences offer great insight into his published works include his Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography The Education of Henry Adams, Esther: A Novel, Mont Saint Michel and Chartres, Democracy, and a nine-volume history, The History of the United States of America (1801 to 1817).

Often remembered as an ironic, cynical, sometimes bitter, critic of democracy, Adams was an astute observer of American politics. A Political Companion to Henry Adams fills a long-standing gap in scholarship with an appreciation of his musings on the human condition and political life at the eve of the twentieth century.

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