An instant bestseller when first published in 1880, "Democracy: An American Novel" is the quintessential American political novel. Not until after his death in 1918 was it revealed that Henry Adams was the anonymous author.
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.
At its heart is Madeleine Lee, a young widow who comes to Washington, D.C., to understand the workings of power. Pursued by Silas Ratcliffe, the most influential member of the Senate, Madeleine soon sees enough of power and its corrupting influence to last her a lifetime.