William Howard Adams
On Luxury: A Cautionary Tale
The definitive study of the second most famous house in America
The Paris Years of Thomas Jefferson
Five years in France that changed the Virginian’s life
The Eye of Thomas Jefferson
The third president’s esthetic life
Jefferson and the Arts: An Extended View
A collection of essays by seven Jefferson scholars
Gardens through History: Nature Perfected also Nature Perfected, a film based on the book
The French Garden: 1500-1800
300 years of French garden art
Grounds for Change
Major gardens of the 20th century
The Unnatural Art of the Garden
Survey of Roberto Burle Marx’s work in MoMA exhibition
Landscape and culture in the 20th century
Atget’s incomparable and unknown photographs of great French gardens and parks around Paris
A Proust Souvenir
Paul Nadar’s photographic portraits
of Proust’s circle
About the Author
Historian, Writer, Lecturer,
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library (Harvard University)
International Center for Jefferson Studies
Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation
Forthcoming, October 2012
For more than twenty-five hundred years, until the modern era, the notion of luxury represented one of the most important and pervasive restraining principles to organized society in the West. Before it was “de-moralized” with the advent of capitalism and the consumer revolution, it was always identified as dangerous and subversive. Its dodgy reputation as an expression of vice or sin arose from the perception that it was both a cause and a symptom of evil—counterposed with the virtues of limits and restraint. Beginning with the Greeks, public and private virtue were both summed up by “moderation,” luxury’s antonym.
Praise for On Luxury
—Mary Beard, professor of classics, Cambridge University
In On Luxury: A Cautionary Tale, Adams gives us the most comprehensive and accessible history to date of luxury and Western culture's ongoing engagement of it. Together, his conversational style and impeccable scholarship make this volume a treasure for every thinking American.
—Phyllis Tickle, author, Greed: The Seven Deadly Sins
—Dana Thomas, author, Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster
Some today lust for luxury. Others snicker at it. In a world of outrageously concentrated wealth and dwindling natural resources, William Howard Adams helps us understand, both these responses doom us to dangerous dead ends. His insightful—and eminently readable—history offers up a far better path.
—Sam Pizzigati, author, The Rich Don’t Always Win, and editor,
Gouverneur Morris: An Independent Life
Yale University Press, 2003
334 pages, 20 illustrations
A defender of civil liberties throughout his life, Morris was an outspoken enemy of slavery in New York’s first constitutional convention and more importantly in the national constitutional convention of 1787. Speaking more on the key issues than any other member in Philadelphia, he would draft the final version of the Constitution beginning with his Preamble “We the People of the united States.”
As Washington’s first minister to Paris, he was the only diplomat to remain at his post through the Terror. With his cool perspective on the ultimate course of those tragic events he would become America’s most effective representative in France. His diary remains one of the important records of the French Revolution. This engaging book recreates in word and illustration the atmosphere and personalities of pre-Revolutionary Paris and reveals the profound impact they had on one of America’s first transatlantic citizens.
Morris’s remarkable grasp of public finance anticipated the policies that would later be advanced by Hamilton. Drafting the charter of the first national bank in America, he would become a partner of the “Financier” Robert Morris in managing the office of finance to pay for the Revolution.
Above all, Morris was a cosmopolitan man of the future. Growing up in New York, Philadelphia, and later in Paris, London and other European cities, Morris’s career as a diplomat and successful businessman sets him apart from most of the founding generation by his frank embrace of city life as a creative center of civilization. His central role in the building of the Erie Canal and his laying out the urban grid plan of Manhattan attests to the bold, imaginative scale of Morris’s achievements.
last, Gouverneur Morris has found a biographer capable of capturing
his sassy mixture of irreverence, energy, and wisdom. William Howard
Adams has painted a brilliant full-length portrait of the only peg-legged
genius in American history.”
2003 William Howard Adams