Books: Fast Upward

THE LETTERS OF HENRY ADAMS Edited by J.C. Levenson, Ernest Samuels, Charles Vandersee, Viola Hopkins Winner; Belknap Press; 3 volumes; $100

"I still would like to think," Henry Adams once wrote to his older brother Charles, "that a century or two hence when everything else about us is forgotten my letters might still be read and quoted as a memorial of manners and habits at the time of the great secession of 1860." Adams was then a bumptious youth of 22, just three years out of Harvard, desperately uncertain about what he wanted to...

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