The ideal introduction and companion to Adams's "massive and magisterial" history of the administrations of Jefferson and Madison, presenting an indelible picture of America's startling rise to world power.
Henry Adams's nine-volume History of the United States During the Administrations of Jefferson and Madison is the first great history of America as well as the first great American work of history, a work that rivals Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in its eloquence and sweep. But where Gibbon told of imperial collapse, Adams recorded the rise of a new, unanticipated power, America, a state that, he shows, beat every odd to expand in a mere sixteen years—1800 to 1817—from a backward provincial outpost to international eminence. What made this transformation all the more remarkable was that it occurred under the watch of two presidents who were frankly skeptical about its benefits, and yet whose policies served to promote it. Thus America not only found its footing in the world, but took on a divided identity—at once isolationist and interventionist—that it continues to display to this day.
Famed historian and political commentator Garry Wills's recent, widely reviewed, and well-received Henry Adams and the Making of America introduced readers to the splendors of Adams's history and the rigors of its analysis. This ample new selection from Adams's History is the first to bring together its powerful opening and concluding sections. Together with Wills's thoughtful introduction, it offers readers a chance to experience the magnum opus of one of America's outstanding writers and thinkers.