Henry Brooks Adams (1838–1918)

Edited by Louis P. Masur

in “… The Real War Will Never Get in the Books”

Published in print September 1995 | ISBN: 9780195098372
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853908 | DOI:
Henry Brooks Adams (1838–1918)

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Henry Brooks Adams always knew for whom he wrote. It was not for himself, or his friends, or his family, but for the ages. His letters to his brother, Charles Adams, undulate with confused and forbidden desires. Descended from glory, Adams needed to make his own place in family history. He knew the Civil War was the defining event for his generation. Adams introduced ideas and feelings that persisted for decades. Intellectually, he searched for the equations that would unlock history and society, contemplated the nature of democratic institutions and the power of scientific laws, and flirted with mysticism. Emotionally, he alternated between hope and despair, he craved something more yet sensed he must settle for something less. The letters grab one because they are immediate and honest, unvarnished. The stories told in the correspondence differ from the stories told in the Education.

Keywords: Henry Brooks Adams; Charles Adams; Civil War; scientific laws; mysticism; history; society

Chapter.  7895 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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