Why did I love this book?
I didn’t want to read a 1907 autobiography about someone I’d never heard of who uses a humblebrag title to tell me about his life as a genius. But it won the Pulitzer and made Modern Library’s list of top 100 nonfiction books of the 20th century – the hardest century to make the list in – for a reason. To my great shock it’s a fun, well-written page-turner. The son of the last of the dignified founding father presidents, John Quincy Adams (and grandson of John Adams) rails against Jacksonian populism in the time of Grant. You can skip the last section on his excitement about dynamo steam engines.