The Modern Library’s number-one nonfiction book of the twentieth century and winner of the Pulitzer Prize: The acclaimed memoir of a brilliant man reckoning with an era of profound change
The great-grandson of President John Adams and the grandson of President John Quincy Adams, Henry Adams possessed one of the most remarkable minds of his generation. Yet he believed himself fundamentally unsuited to the era in which he lived—the tumultuous period between the Civil War and World War I.
One of the finest autobiographies ever written, The Education of Henry Adams is a remarkable and uniquely unclassifiable work. Written in third person and originally circulated in a private edition to friends and family only, it recounts Adams’s lifelong search for self-knowledge and moral enlightenment and bears witness to some of the most significant developments in American history.
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“I cannot remember when I was not fascinated by Henry Adams. He was remarkably prescient about the coming horrors.” —Gore Vidal
“The pleasure of reading the Education is . . . the pleasure of seeing history come alive, of seeing it move, of seeing behind history to the actions and actors. It is the pleasure of seeing revealed the humanity so often concealed in history.” —Alfred Kazin
Henry Adams (1838–1918) was a noted American intellectual, historian, and man of letters. Born in Boston into one of the nation’s most prominent political families, he attended Harvard University, graduating in 1858. From 1861 to 1868 Adams served as private secretary to his father, Charles Francis Adams Sr., whom President Abraham Lincoln had appointed minister to England. Following his return to America, Adams became a journalist in Washington, DC, frequently calling for reform and the ousting of political scoundrels. Ultimately disillusioned with the world of politics, he took a position as professor of medieval history at Harvard. His writings include two novels and numerous biographies and histories, including his nine-volume The History of the United States of America (1801 to 1817). His memoir, The Education of Henry Adams (1907), is widely considered to be among the finest autobiographies ever written in the English language. Adams died at the age of eighty in Washington, DC.