• The Last American Aristocrat

  • The Brilliant Life and Improbable Education of Henry Adams
  • By: David S. Brown
  • Narrated by: Jacques Roy
  • Length: 14 hrs
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (55 ratings)

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The Last American Aristocrat

By: David S. Brown
Narrated by: Jacques Roy
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Publisher's Summary

A “marvelous … compelling” (The New York Times Book Review) biography of literary icon Henry Adams - one of America’s most prominent writers and intellectuals, who witnessed and contributed to the United States’ dramatic transition from a colonial society to a modern nation.

Henry Adams is perhaps the most eclectic, accomplished, and important American writer of his time. His autobiography and modern classic The Education of Henry Adams was widely considered one of the best English-language nonfiction books of the 20th century. The last member of his distinguished family - after great-grandfather John Adams and grandfather John Quincy Adams - to gain national attention, he is remembered today as a historian, a political commentator, and a memoirist. 

Now, historian David Brown sheds light on the brilliant yet under-celebrated life of this major American intellectual. Adams not only lived through the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution, but he also met Abraham Lincoln, bowed before Queen Victoria, and counted Secretary of State John Hay, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, and President Theodore Roosevelt as friends and neighbors. His observations of these powerful men and their policies in his private letters provide a penetrating assessment of Gilded Age America on the cusp of the modern era. 

“Thoroughly researched and gracefully written” (The Wall Street Journal), The Last American Aristocrat details Adams’ relationships with his wife (Marian “Clover” Hooper) and, following her suicide, Elizabeth Cameron, the young wife of a senator and part of the famous Sherman clan from Ohio. Henry Adams’ letters - thousands of them - demonstrate his struggles with depression, familial expectations, and reconciling with his unwanted widower’s existence.

Offering a fresh window on 19th-century US history, as well as a more “modern” and “human” Henry Adams than ever before, The Last American Aristocrat is a “standout portrait of the man and his era” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

©2020 David S. Brown. All rights reserved. (P)2020 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

"Jacques Roy’s narration is beautifully paced, unhurried and deftly altered to distinguish narrative from quotation." (The Star Tribune)

"Jacques Roy's fine narration of Brown's excellent biography of historian Henry Adams is commendable on every scale, a model of pacing, expression, and tone." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about The Last American Aristocrat

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outstanding book, highly recommend it

This is a great book, well-deserving the accolates/awards it has already received. Brown brings Henry Adams real life to the surface in a way never done before, and certainly not done by Adams' own "Education" or 1918 (still a wonderful book itself). Brown is also able to put Adams into his context & related, to some degree, the history of the post Civil War period, up to WW1. Adams comes off as both attractive/interesting/open-minded and narrow-minded/rigid/snob. That is, as a real person. He would have been someone wonderful to meet & talk to at length. His virulent anti-semiitism (& sometime racism & sometime xenophobia aside). Brown does provide useful material on these less appealing subjects without letting those overwhelm the entire story. The narration is excellent.

4 people found this helpful

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An academic slog, and yet.....

.....it was a peek into a life very different than mine but with commonality through shared emotions and travels. Interesting look into the lives of other characters in American D.C. political life post civil war. Also, convinced he was the last American aristocrat (male of female). However, when it was done, I certainly didn't find it a waste of time and would encourage certain friends to read it

3 people found this helpful

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Riddle resolved

How should a biographer biograph a biographer? This imponderable is convincingly resolved. One should do it like this.

3 people found this helpful

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He saw the Civil War and World War I

He had an interesting life finding work that was different for his upper class lifestyle. He was able to avoid becoming a lawyer. I found it amazing that he did not have a lover after his wife died. His exotic trips
to Fiji would test a priest

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Narrator spoils it

The book was interesting, but the narrator's habit of a crescendo at the end of every sentence spoiled it.