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Henry Adams (1838-1918) was a member of the political family founded by John Adams during the American Revolution. While his ambitions were literary and historical (his major work is a massive history of the United States in the age of Jefferson), he was not completely immune from the political life.
The Education of Henry Adams is the Pulitzer Prize winning autobiography of Henry Adams. He recounts the education he received, lamenting that formal schooling failed to prepare him for a century of technological and philosophical change.
This book is an excellent way to learn about 19th century America, interestingly he chose the third person to tell his own story The Education is much more a record of Adams's introspection than of his deeds. It is an extended meditation on the social, technological, political, and intellectual changes that occurred over Adams's lifetime. Adams concluded that his traditional education at Harvard failed to help him come to terms with the rapid changes he saw in his lifetime; hence his need for self-education. Many consider this the best autobiography ever written.