The Middle Years of Henry Adams:
Women in his Life and Novels
THE second volume of Ernest Samuels’ leisurely biography of Henry Adams (Henry Adams: The Middle Years, Harvard University Press, $6.50) is a book to delight the Adams buff, whose number, these days of despair, is legion. A biography in the “life and times” tradition, carefully researched, well-integrated, and presenting a mass of data in a readable style that does not reflect the clutter of the author’s strenuous investigations-it deserves all the high praise reviewers have showered upon it. What with this biography and another rumored to be in preparation, besides everything else that has been published, Henry Adams bids fair to emerge as a better-documented man than the presidents among his ancestors, of whom he always stood more than a little in awe.
Professor Samuels’ earlier volume, The Young Henry Adams, took the grandson of John Quincy and the great-grandson of John from his birth in 1838 in Boston, through Harvard, service as his father’s secretary in the London Embassy during the Civil War, and back to America, which, following the war, had become enormously rich and corrupt and from which Henry Adams, brahmin of brahmins, felt entirely alienated. The book went on to deal with Adams’s residence in Washington; his efforts as a journalist to expose the dastardy of the politicos
who congregated around Grant and the gross manipulations of some spectacularly dishonest businessmen; his participation in the ill-fated reformist Liberal Republican movement; teaching at Harvard; editorship of the North American Review, and marriage to Marian Hooper.
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