Democracy - An American Novel

Henry Brooks ADAMS (1838 - 1918)

Not until after his death in 1918 was it revealed that Henry Adams was the anonymous author of Democracy, which had been published to great acclaim in 1880. Though the book avoids dates and the characters are fictitious, the setting is no doubt that of Washington in the 1870s, the age of Presidents Grant and Hayes. The young widow, Madeleine Lee, wealthy and independent, is the protagonist, who leaves her New York for Washington to turn her intelligence to politics and to see what makes her country tick. There she meets (among others) Senator Silas P. Ratcliffe of Illinois, one of the most powerful and influential (if somewhat uncultured) men of the capital, who is considering a run for the presidency, and who needs a wife to act as First Lady, a position that (he thinks) Mrs. Lee would admirably fill.

Through the book Adams plays with the themes of political necessity, compromise, corruption -- particularly the kind of corporate domination of national politics that he saw becoming all too powerful. Should honest and intelligent men keep their integrity by avoiding politics? Or would that simply mean turning over the governance of the country to power-hungry, scheming, and none too honest hacks? For all the witty conversations in his novel, this was a theme that plagued Adams (a presidential grandson) in life as well as literature, and it is a theme that has by no means disappeared today. (Introduction by Nicholas Clifford)

Genre(s): General Fiction, Suspense, Espionage, Political & Thrillers

Language: English

Section Chapter Reader Time
Play 01 01 - Chapter I Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
00:14:36
Play 02 02 - Chapter II Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
00:29:59
Play 03 03 - Chapter III Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
00:32:51
Play 04 04 - Chapter IV Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
00:19:29
Play 05 05 - Chapter V Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
00:34:21
Play 06 06 - Chapter VI Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
00:38:11
Play 07 07 - Chapter VII Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
00:41:15
Play 08 08 - Chapter VIII Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
00:36:40
Play 09 09 - Chapter IX Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
00:41:11
Play 10 10 - Chapter X Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
00:35:33
Play 11 11 - Chapter XI Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
00:45:21
Play 12 12 - Chapter XII Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
00:26:38
Play 13 13 - Chapter XIII Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
00:36:13
Play 14 14 - Conclusion Nicholas Clifford (1930-2019)
00:04:19