Brookhiser, Richard. America’s First Dynasty: The Adamses, 1735-1918. New York: Free Press, 2002. A history of the politically important Adams family. This book discusses Henry Adams’s privileged insight into American politics.
Chalfant, Edward. Better in Darkness: A Biography of Henry Adams—His Second Life, 1862-1891. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1994. The second volume of Chalfant’s comprehensive three-volume biography of Henry Adams, this work covers the period of Adams’s efforts at political reform and his career as a muckraking journalist during the period that saw the publication of Democracy.
Dawidoff, Robert. The Genteel Tradition and the Sacred Rage: High Culture versus Democracy in Adams, James, and Santayana. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992. A discussion of the influence of the French political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville, author of Democracy in America, on Adams as well as on novelist Henry James and philosopher George Santayana. Chapter 2 considers Democracy a critical reflection on the limitations and problems of the democratic system.
O’Brien, Michael. Henry Adams and the Southern Question. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2005. A study of Adams’s perspective on the American South. O’Brien’s work provides background for the character John Carrington in Democracy.
Simpson, Brooks D. The Political Education of Henry Adams. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996. An examination of Adams’s political career that will help readers understand the frustrations with democracy expressed by Adams in the novel. Simpson argues that Adams wanted to reform American politics through his journalism and lobbying, but that he undermined himself by offending the people he sought to influence.