Adams grew increasingly conscious of how different an American is now from the man or woman of any other advanced nation. He is equally interested in the whole of American history, how it began, and what it represented in the first half of the twentieth century. Adams traces the historical origins of the American concept of "bigger and better," attitudes toward business, the American Dream, and other characteristics generally considered "typically American."
Ever since America became an independent nation, each generation has seen an uprising of its citizens to save the American Dream from forces seeking to overwhelm and dispel it. Possibly the greatest of these struggles is still aheadânot a struggle of revolutionists against established order, but of the ordinary person who seeks to hold fast to the rights of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." This classic book is valuable for a new age and as important for this new century as it was when originally written.
The correspondence is divided into a wide network of letters covering two world wars, and highlighting Adams' efforts to speak as a public historian of the age. The range covered extends from World War I, where he participated in the Paris Conference, to the New England histories, the year of the Economic Crash, the making of his great book, The Epic of America, and the final summing up, making history accessible to the larger publics.
Both the biographical sketch and the correspondence reflect Adams as possessing a nimble, precise mind and a stubborn set of opinions that are sometimes liberal, while at other times conservative. Despite a lifetime of public service, Nevins and the letters remind us, Adams was and remained essentially a scholar. The same can be said of Nevins himselfâand that made him the perfect spokesman and student of Adams' writings. For those to whom the meshing of solid American history and public service are of interest this will be an unusual, but entirely worthwhile experience.