The Education of Henry Adams

henry adamsThe Short Version: Henry Adams, in the twilight of his days, reflects on his life through the lens of his ‘education’ – both in schools and in social scenes – as the 19th Century crashed into the 20th.

The Review: I really hate to do this.  And in this instance, I know I’ll be back.  But I just can’t finish this book right now.

I got it as a gift from a man I’ve come to look up to like an older brother.  He gave it to me at the end of last year, saying that while he found Adams a difficult and ornery man to read, he learned so much from the book.  And Adams certainly has a hell of a wit – he’s funny and he’s smart and there’s certainly a parallel between the young Adams and myself.  Perhaps that’s what’s giving me grief right now.

See, education – as Adams makes clear – has nothing to do with schooling.  Adams hated school (I actually quite enjoyed it but that’s irrelevant) and found that much of his ‘education’ came from real-world experiences.  Well, isn’t that damn true.  I’ve learned more in the year and a half (approaching two… whoa…) since matriculation than I did in arguably all four years of college and the 12 grades before it.  It’s actually an issue I’ve thought about quite a bit: we learn stats and stories but we don’t learn how to live, how to exist in this world.  That’s what Adams’ book is all about.

Unfortunately, the book is a little dry.  Adams writes in third person, which is interesting and entertaining for the first little bit… but I just found myself snoozing through most of the first 200 pages.  And I’m sorry but that’s just not going to fly right now.  I’m looking forward to taking a run at this book again (unlike Tristram Shandy….), perhaps this summer – and I’ll re-evaluate/grade then.  But for now, I have to give a…

Rating: Incomplete.  Putting it down.  I’m sorry.  I want some Terry Pratchett in my life and then a run at the Tournament of Books.  Life’s too short and my life is too hectic.

One comment

  1. Pingback: 2012 – The RB Lit Review | Raging Biblio-holism

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