The circle of intimates whose lives are recounted in Patricia O’Toole’s The Five of Hearts: An Intimate Portrait of Henry Adams and His Friends, 1880-1918 includes Adams and his wife Marian (familiarly known as “Clover”); John Hay, Secretary of State, and his wife Clara, who were central to the political and social life of Washington in the late nineteenth century; and Clarence King, the geologist who knew all about gold and silver mines, charted the Fortieth Parallel, and wrote a very popular account of the West called Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada (1872). Miss O’Toole offers here “a portrait of an elite” who in their public life “helped to define American culture and politics in the years between the Civil War and World War I.” But she also provides an intimate, personal “group biography” of a set whose story was one of “abounding love, the riches of...


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