A Political Companion to Henry Adams

Overview

Henry Adams, great-grandson of John Adams, grandson of John Quincy Adams, and author of the Pulitzer Prize--winning The Education of Henry Adams, is often overlooked as a serious political thinker. Many scholars have dismissed his writings as cynical and bitter while others regard him as a mere observer of American politics, accepting Adams's description of himself as a "stable-companion to statesmen." A Political Companion to Henry Adams suggests that he was far more.

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Overview

Henry Adams, great-grandson of John Adams, grandson of John Quincy Adams, and author of the Pulitzer Prize--winning The Education of Henry Adams, is often overlooked as a serious political thinker. Many scholars have dismissed his writings as cynical and bitter while others regard him as a mere observer of American politics, accepting Adams's description of himself as a "stable-companion to statesmen." A Political Companion to Henry Adams suggests that he was far more.

In this provocative collection, editor Natalie Fuehrer Taylor presents works by some of the leading political thinkers in America today -- scholars who challenge conventional judgments about the life and work of Henry Adams and credit him with revealing key insights into the nation's evolving democracy.

A Political Companion to Henry Adams fills a long-standing gap in scholarship that has devoted little attention to Adams's political thought, offering a nuanced appreciation of his musings on the human condition and political life at the eve of the twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A superb collection of essays on Henry Adams that demonstrates his lasting contribution to American political thought and literature." -- Mary P. Nichols, author of Socrates on Friendship and Community: Reflections on Plato's Symposium, Phaedrus, and Lysis

"Anyone who picks up this volume will be inspired to revisit the work of one of the United States' most puzzlingly neglected authors." -- Susan McWilliams, associate professor of politics, Pomona College

"Taylor brings together new scholarship on Henry Adams with seminal essays from the past, establishing Adams as one of America's great thinkers about history, art, and politics. These essays demonstrate how Adams's attempt to come to terms with the changes he saw in 19th century America help us to understand not only our history as a nation but our own regime more generally, its potentials and limits." -- Mary Nichols, author of Socrates on Friendship and Community: Reflections on Plato's Symposium, Phaedrus, and Lysis, Baylor University

"Students of American political thought these days don't read much Henry Adams. As the essays edited by Natalie Taylor show, they should. Henry Adams brought a rare combination of literary talent, historical erudition, and deep reflection to bear in not merely describing, but pondering the fate of the American republic." -- Catherine Zuckert, Nancy Reeves Dreux Professor of Politcal Science, Notre Dame University

" A Political Companion to Henry Adams collects ten essays that examine 'the literary statesmanship' of one of the most gifted, mercurial, and multidisciplinary minds ever to appear in America. No assessment of Henry Adams's achievement is possible without a thorough grounding in the traditions of political thought on which his work draws, yet it is exactly that dimension which readers commonly find most obscure. Assembling contributions from distinguished authorities with those of promising younger scholars, this volume provides welcome explication of the notoriously evasive ideological life of Adams's historical narratives, fiction, autobiography, and travel writing. Its publication is an important event in Henry Adams scholarship." -- William Merrill Decker, author of The Literary Vocation of Henry Adams, Oklahoma State University

"Wisely eschewing the efforts Henry Adams himself made to suggest he ought not be taken too seriously, this volume of essays--some reprinted classics, others new--reveals the deep questions about the United States that animated Adams' literary career. That the authors do not always see eye to eye only serves to illuminate more clearly the important moral questions Adams struggled with as he attempted to understand the history and fate of his nation. Whether trying to distinguish between statesman and politician, understanding the relationship between our republican and liberal roots, or evaluating the ethical and political impact of science and technology, we continue to struggle with Adams' questions today, so through this book we gain insight into Adams and ourselves. Editor Natalie Taylor makes a bold claim when she says that 'Although he never held office, Henry Adams remains one of America's great statesmen,' but her fine collection vindicates it." -- Charles Rubin, Duquesne University

"She has collected works by some of the leading political thinkers in America who challenge conventional thinking about life of Henry Adams and credit with revealing key insights into the nation's evolving democracy." -- Scope Online

"While all of the essays are strong and commeneded to the attention of Adams scholars, particularly noteworthy contributions include... analysis of the place of fraternity, sacrifice, love, and community in regard to Adam's broader understanding of politics. Highly Recommended." -- Choice

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Natalie Fuehrer Taylor, assistant professor in the Department of Government at Skidmore College, is the author of The Rights of Woman as Chimera: The Political Philosophy of Mary Wollstonecraft.

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Table of Contents

Series Foreword viiAcknowledgments ixAbbreviations for Frequently Cited Works xiIntroduction: The Literary Statesmanship of Henry Adams 1Natalie Fuehrer Taylor

PART I. REPUBLICANISM, DEMOCRACY, AND THE NATURE OF THE AMERICAN REGIME1. Henry Adams and the Decline of the Republican Tradition 17Russell L. Hanson and W. Richard Merriman2. Democracy: Henry Adams and the Role of Political Leader 43B. H. Gilley3. Democracy and Esther: Henry Adams's Flirtation with Pragmatism 61Michael Colacurcio4. Henry Adams's Democracy: Novel Sources of Democratic Virtues 81Denise Dutton5. The Flowers of Freedom or the New Tyranny: Science, Art, and Religion in Henry Adams's Esther 111Natalie Fuehrer Taylor

PART II. THE SEARCH FOR LOST FAITH6. Henry Adams 139Henry Steele Commager7. The Politics of Scientific History 153Richard Samuelson8. Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres: From Unity to Multiplicity 171Patrick J. Deneen9. History, Science, and Politics: A Lifetime's Education 190James P. Young10. Henry Adams and the "Burden of History": Intimations of Fraternity amidst the Ravages of Nature Conquered 246Wilson Carey McWilliams. Edited by Patrick J. Deneen

Selected Bibliography 257List of Contributors 261Index 263

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