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25 January 1990
Henry​ Adams 
by Ernest Samuels.
Harvard, 504 pp., £19.95, November 1989, 9780674387355
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The Letters of Henry AdamsVols I-VI 
edited by J.C Levenson, Ernest Samuels, Charles Vandersee and Viola Hopkins-Winner.
Harvard, 2016 pp., £100.75, July 1990, 0 674 52685 6
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... HenryAdams is a rare bird in American letters: rich, autonomous, and socially unassailable; descendant of Presidents, secure within the genteel Establishment, yet holding himself aloof from it; historian of his ...
15 November 1984
... Inertia of sex could not be overcome without extinguishing the race, yet an immense force, doubling every few years, was working irresistibly to overcome it.’ Was HenryAdams right that the race would be snuffed out not by nuclear Armageddon, ecological disaster, plague, comet, sun-storm etc, but – don’t laugh – the Women’s Movement? What though it’s not among ...

Two Poems

Anne Stevenson

12 March 1992
... I only met once   while tangoing, tipsy, on an outdoor moon-lit dance-floor.   I swear you lost me when he laid light fingers on my lips   and then, cat-like, kissed me. A Nightmare for HenryAdams To Lauris Edmond Thank you for your postcard from Köln. It catches the dictatorship of the Cathedral in the act of rocketing two Gothic crosses out of reach of the 20th century’s universal post ...

The Illiberal Hour

Mark Bonham-Carter

7 March 1985
Black and White Britain: The Third Survey 
by Colin Brown.
PSI/Heinemann, 331 pp., £22.50, September 1984, 0 435 83124 0
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... were for many centuries without an inferiority complex. This ‘complacency’ carried with it a number of unattractive characteristics, but allowed a spirit of self-criticism that was healthy. HenryAdams reports in his autobiography that at a dinner at the American Embassy at which John Bright was the chief British guest, he thumped the table and announced: ‘the English are a nation of brutes ...

Christian v. Cannibal

Michael Rogin: Norman Mailer and American history

1 April 1999
The American Century 
by Harold Evans.
Cape, 710 pp., £40, November 1998, 0 224 05217 9
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The Time of Our Time 
by Norman Mailer.
Little, Brown, 1286 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 316 64571 0
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... politically impermissible; Evans even accepts that the bombs were directed as much against Russia in the emerging Cold War as against Japan in the World War Two endgame. He accuses Time editor Henry Luce, the man who coined the expression ‘the American century’, of proceeding in the manner of a Fascist in his role as leader of the post-World War Two pro-Nationalist China lobby. Although he ...
25 April 1991
The Confessions of Saint Augustine 
translated with an introduction and notes by Henry​ Chadwick.
Oxford, 311 pp., £17.50, February 1991, 0 19 281779 5
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... Augustine’s Confessions, though frequently set at the beginning of a line of literary history that leads to Rousseau and HenryAdams, is a narrative of the writer’s life only in a highly intermittent and drastically selective way. Its aim, as has often been noted, is more spiritual exhortation then self-revelation, or, more ...


Conrad Russell

7 November 1985
F.W. Maitland 
by G.R. Elton.
Weidenfeld, 118 pp., £12.95, June 1985, 0 297 78614 8
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Renaissance Essays 
by Hugh Trevor-Roper.
Secker, 312 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 436 42511 4
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History, Society and the Churches: Essays in Honour of Owen Chadwick 
edited by Derek Beales and Geoffrey Best.
Cambridge, 335 pp., £30, May 1985, 0 521 25486 8
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... spectacle of A.A. Milne portraying the Second World War as a war against Antichrist. Yet the dominant theme of this volume is not that of these essays: it is the one set in a memorable first essay by Henry Chadwick on ‘Augustine on Pagans and Christians’ (is Owen Chadwick the first scholar to enjoy the distinction of having his brother contribute to his festschrift?). The theme that emerges, to be ...

When Chicago Went Classical

Andrew Saint: A serial killer and the World’s Fair

1 April 2004
Devil in the White City 
by Erik Larson.
Bantam, 496 pp., £7.99, April 2004, 0 553 81353 6
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... however, was exhilaration at an exemplary grandeur. Testimony to the spell of 1893 comes from many visitors. None is more compelling than that of the quintessential East Coast Europhile and aesthete, HenryAdams. Even as he shuddered at the local coarseness, he underwent a conversion which surprised him. Beneath the dome of the most pompous construction of the lot, the Administration Building at the ...

‘I thirst for his blood’

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Henry​ James

25 November 1999
Henry​ James: A Life in Letters 
edited by Philip Horne.
Penguin, 668 pp., £25, June 1999, 0 7139 9126 7
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A Private Life of Henry​ James: Two Women and His Art 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Chatto, 500 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 7011 6166 3
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... Henry James was a generous correspondent in more senses than one, but his fellow writers may have found some of the Master’s letters rather exasperating. ‘I read your current novel with pleasure,’ he ...


Frank Kermode: American Books

1 April 1983
... volumes, Howells four; there is a Jack London volume out, and one to come. Parkman’s two volumes will appear in the autumn, along with the collected works of Jefferson in one volume, one of four HenryAdams volumes, and one of four Emersons. James will fill eight volumes, and the first, soon to appear, includes Watch and Ward and four other early works. His critical writing will occupy two volumes ...
16 March 2000
Morgan: American Financier 
by Jean Strouse.
Harvill, 816 pp., £25, June 1999, 9781860463556
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... their heads have no middle. They can’t say “I”. They aren’t in fact, and so they’re supermen. Pierpont Morgan has never said “I” in his life.’ Strouse would agree. ‘He was, as HenryAdams said of Theodore Roosevelt, “pure act”.’ But Schlegel goes on to say, ‘if you could pierce through him, you’d find panic and emptiness in the middle’, which Strouse wouldn’t say ...


Christopher Hitchens

19 October 1995
Palimpsest: A Memoir 
by Gore Vidal.
Deutsch, 432 pp., £17.99, October 1995, 0 233 98891 2
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... in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington. You take a few paces down the slope from the graveyard’s centrepiece, which is the lachrymose and androgynous Mourning Figure sculpted by August St Guldens for HenryAdams’s unhappy wife Clover (whose name always puts me in mind of an overworked pit pony). And there in the grass is a stone slab, bearing the names and dates of birth of Vidal and his lifelong ...


Christopher Ricks

2 December 1982
T.S. Eliot: The Critical Heritage 
edited by Michael Grant.
Routledge, 408 pp., £25, July 1982, 0 7100 9226 1
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... be truly helpful (especially as to the uncollected or stray prose), is disdained: so that Allen Tate’s remark that ‘Poems: 1909-1925 by Mr. T. S. Eliot is a spiritual epilogue to The Education of HenryAdams’ is supplied with no reminder, or minder, that Eliot had reviewed The Education of HenryAdamsin 1919. Even when the editor resigns himself to being informative, he manages to withhold ...
17 September 1987
The Content of the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation 
by Hayden White.
Johns Hopkins, 248 pp., £20.80, May 1987, 0 8018 2937 2
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Post-Structuralism and the Question of History 
edited by Derek Attridge, Geoff Bennington and Robert Young.
Cambridge, 292 pp., £27.50, February 1987, 0 521 32759 8
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... to the imaginary relationship the subject bears to his own social and cultural situation’. The concrete results of such a project can already be foreseen in the acute analysis of The Education of HenryAdams, by way of Denis Brogan’s 1961 introduction, with which White brings this essay, and the collection as a whole, to an end. It is quite evident that The Content of the Form was written under ...


W.G. Runciman: Reflections on Tawney

4 August 1988
... and sometimes downright contrariness, of the students on the receiving end, many of whom take a robustly cynical view of the romantic anti-capitalism of the fading swingers of the Class of ‘68. As HenryAdams wrote of himself after his brief experience as a Harvard professor in the 1870s, a teacher ‘makes of his scholars either priests or atheists, plutocrats or socialists, judges or anarchists ...

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