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Few works have so firmly established their position in American literature as The Education of Henry Adams. As a man of extraordinary gifts and learning and a member of one of the greatest American families, Henry Adams wrote an insightful exploration of himself and the tumultuous age in which he lived. In the words of Van Wyck Brooks, he "revealed a phase of American history with unparalleled boldness and truth."
In spite of his illustrious background and Harvard schooling, Henry Adams asserts that his conventional education was defective because it did not prepare him to live in a world transformed by the new science and the new technology. His intention was to write a kind of handbook to prepare "young men, in universities and elsewhere, to be men of the world, equipped for any emergency." The result is what many consider to be one of the finest autobiographies ever written.