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Democracy: An American Novel
by Henry Adams
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First published anonymously in 1880, the mother of all (American) political novels is the story of Madeleine Lee, a young widow who comes to Washington, DC, to understand the workings of government. "What she wanted was POWER." During the course of the novel, she sees enough of power and its corruptions to last her a lifetime.
Henry Adams called the rampant piracy of this work--published anonymously and redistributed illegally for years-- his greatest achievement.
FOR reasons which many persons thought ridiculous, Mrs. Lightfoot Lee decided to pass the winter in Washington. She was in excellent health, but she said that the climate would do her good. In New York she had troops of friends, but she suddenly became eager to see again the very small number of those who lived on the Potomac. It was only to her closest intimates that she honestly acknowledged herself to be tortured by ennui. Since her husband's death, five years before, she had lost her taste for New York society; she had felt no interest in the price of stocks, and very little in the men who dealt in them; she had become serious. What was it all worth, this wilderness of men and women as monotonous as the brown stone houses they lived in? In her despair she had resorted to desperate measures. She had read philosophy in the original German, and the more she read, the more she was disheartened that so much culture should lead to nothing - nothing.
From the Back Cover
“[One] of the most perceptive books ever written about Washington.” —Maureen Dowd, The New York Times
About the Author
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., is a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and biographer. His many books include A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House and, most recently, A Life in the 20th Century. He lives in New York City.
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