Henry Adams and the Making of America

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Aug 1, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 467 pages
7 Reviews
One of our greatest historians offers a surprising new view of the greatest historian of the nineteenth century, Henry Adams.

Wills showcases Henry Adams's little-known but seminal study of the early United States and elicits from it fresh insights on the paradoxes that roil America to this day. Adams drew on his own southern fixation, his extensive foreign travel, his political service in Lincoln's White House, and much more to invent the study of history as we know it. His nine-volume chronicle of America from 1800 to 1816 established new standards for employing archival sources, firsthand reportage, eyewitness accounts, and other techniques that have become the essence of modern history.
Adams's innovations went beyond the technical; he posited an essentially ironic view of the legacy of Jefferson and Madison. As is well known, they strove to shield the young country from "foreign entanglements," a standing army, a central bank, and a federal bureaucracy, among other hallmarks of "big government." Yet by the end of their tenures they had permanently entrenched all of these things in American society. This is the "American paradox" that defines us today: the idealized desire for isolation and political simplicity battling against the inexorable growth and intermingling of political, economic, and military forces. As Wills compellingly shows, the ironies spawned two centuries ago still inhabit our foreign policy and the widening schisms over economic and social policy.
Ambitious in scope, nuanced in detail and argument, Henry Adams and the Making of America throws brilliant light on how history is made -- in both senses of the term.
  

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Review: Henry Adams and the Making of America

User Review  - Carol - Goodreads

A distillation of and commentary on Adams 9 volume histories of the administrations of Jefferson and Madison. Essential for those who no longer have the leisure to read the originals. Adams was a ... Read full review

Review: Henry Adams and the Making of America

User Review  - Charles Stephen - Goodreads

I was reading this book in tandem with a biography of Adams's wife, Clover. I disliked the way Garry Wills puffed himself in the opening chapter of this book, even if it was at the expense of long ... Read full review

Contents

The Making of an Historian
9
Boston Historians
33
Civil War Politics
49
Postwar Politics
72
Historical Method
87
Historical Artistry
104
The Making of a Nation
119
The History Volume One
140
The History Volume Six
271
The History Volume Six
296
The History Volume Seven
315
The History Volume Eight
335
The History Volume Eight
349
The History Volume Nine
366
The History Volume Nine
381
Epilogue
395

The History Volume Two
160
The History Volume Three
186
The History Volume Four
216
The History Volume Five
249
Notes
405
Acknowledgments
427
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

GARRY WILLS, a distinguished historian and critic, is the author of numerous books, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning Lincoln at Gettysburg, Saint Augustine, and the best-selling Why I Am a Catholic.
A regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, he has won many awards, among them two National Book Critics Circle Awards and the 1998 National Medal for the Humanities. He is a history professor emeritus at Northwestern University.

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