Henry Adams's Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography tells not only his own life story, as seen through the lens of his lifelong quest for education, but the story of the development of the American mind throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. John McDonough fits his delivery to the steady cadence and stately parallelisms of Adams's prose and incorporates Adams's occasional snippet of Latin, German, or French with smooth ease. Adams's narrative is told from a great emotional and chronological distance; McDonough captures that wonderfully, letting the story unroll from his lips one measured word at a time. Indeed, the production's only weakness is that his leisurely delivery makes a long book seem even longer at times.
This autobiography was immediately hailed as a masterpiece upon publication and has even been called the greatest nonfiction book ever written. Henry Adams, whose great-grandfather and grandfather were both U.S. presidents, fills his story with one unforgettably brilliant observation after another. Filled with uncommon wisdom, this book also serves as a thoughtful history of 19th-century America.
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