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Henry Adams and the Southern Question (Mercer University Lamar Memorial Lectures) Hardcover – May, 2005

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About the Author

Michael O'Brien is Reader in American Intellectual History at the University Of Cambridge and a fellow of Jesus College. He is founder of the Southern Intellectual History Circle and series editor of the Publications of the Southern Texts Society. O'Brien is the author or editor of several books on southern intellectual history, including Conjectures of Order.

Product Details

  • Series: Mercer University Lamar Memorial Lectures (Book 47)
  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press (May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820327115
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820327112
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,558,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael O'Brien (b. 1948) is Professor of American Intellectual History at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of the British Academy, and a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society. He has written widely on the history of American intellectual culture. His book, CONJECTURES OF ORDER (2004) won the Bancroft Prize and was a Nominated Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History and his MRS. ADAMS IN WINTER (2010) was a Nominated Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography and Autobiography.

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In his "Education," Henry Adams declared: "Strictly, the Southerner had no mind; he had temperament. He was not a scholar; he had no intellectual training; he could not analyze an idea, and he could not even conceive of admitting two." It is this "slur" which Professor O'Brien (author of the awesome "Conjectures of Order" and other tomes on Southern intellectual history) posits at the center of this most interesting volume. So,upon what experiences did Adams base his rather pessimistic assessment? One source of contact with the South was his grandmother Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams, originally from Maryland, wife of John Quincy Adams. Much space is devoted to Louisa, perhaps too much, but this chapter does afford an interesting perspective on the formative stages of young Henry. More pertinent is the chapter on Henry Adams period of living in Washington and how this afforded him first-hand opportunities to encounter Southern traditions and attitudes. Any student of Adams will find this chapter irresistible. Another chapter ("American Types") focuses upon Charles Francis Adams, Jr., Henry's elder brother, who served extensively in the Civil War, and his potential influence. However, there is much fascinating information in this chapter aside from CFA, Jr., including a discussion of some of Henry's earlier writings which related to the South (the Randolph biography, e.g.) and his two novels. Finally, the author focuses upon Adams' later works (Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres and the Education) to probe the mature Adams view on Southern culture. Along the way there are interesting detours, such as some comments about W.J. Cash's "Mind of the South" and why there is definitely some sensitivity and defensiveness on this topic which linger even until today.Read more ›
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