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Tocqueville: Democracy in America (Library of America) Hardcover – February 9, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
To read this is to feel that Tocqueville sits in the room with you. The language is modern and vibrant.
More importantly, the depth of his perception, his understanding of the changes wrought upon his world have never been rendered so clearly. There is no feeling of antiquity to these words: you sense the author's awe and admiration for the American experiment.
It would be a better nation if more thinking people read Tocqueville and I can think of no better translation than this one.
This version is worth the extra money.
Tocqueville had a particularly useful background for such an undertaking: his father was a government official and an aristocrat. Tocqueville himself was trained as a lawyer. He also had a splendid intellect, a sensitive disposition, a knack for finding and interviewing people who would become important later on, and an aptitude for listening carefully and recording his impressions in detail. Moreover, he was - like Darwin - profoundly thoughtful when it came to analyzing and distilling the materials he collected, a process he underwent twice - once for each of the two volumes that comprise this work. It bears mention that he was highly ambitious, as befitted his lineage, and yearned for fame, which he obtained largely because of this book, as opposed to fortune, which he already had.
During a trip that led them to Ohio, Niagara Falls, Canada and New Orleans, Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia and Boston, as well as the nation's capital, Tocqueville and his friend Gustav de Beaumont encountered the travails of travel by wagon, stagecoach, canoe and steamboat, sometimes with hair-raising results.Read more ›
It's not terribly original to rave about the excellence of Tocqueville's work; even those who disagree with his worldview find his way of expressing it both stimulating and very useful for solidifying their own opinions. Tocqueville, moreover, is very good at using classical methods of dialectical philosophy to explain why one would expect certain conditions to prevail in the United States, given other circumstances that obtain.
Having just read much of the political philosophy of Plato, plus Bertrand Russell's criticism of it, I would say that a commonly-overlooked merit of Tocqueville's work--particularly Book I--is that it serves as a dialectic alternative to the Platonic tradition of political philosophy. Plato used an ingenious approach of leading questions and deductive responses to argue that society required a firm structure with permanent, ergo ultraconservative, institutions. The object was to preserve high-mindedness and public spiritedness, which for Plato and the great majority of Western political philosophers since him, meant a caste society with equality within each class. Both features, plus the absolute devotion to warfare and martial glory (on the part of the guardians) naturally militated against liberty.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This translation is very accessible - an easy and fun read. It's very interesting how observations from nearly 200 years ago remain relevant today.Published 19 days ago by David B
de Tocqueville's observations on how America works are remarkable. This is a hard look at the American Experiment in 1831. That may seem old. It is not. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Gerard Hallaren
Made a great gift! A wonderful read for anyone with an interest in the past.Published 3 months ago by joji
A truly great insight into who 'outsiders' saw our nation in the formative years. A historical classic perspective.Published 5 months ago by Chris E. Thompson
I read with a bit of concern the complaints in other reviews about the size of the type, as I'm 64 and have some difficulty reading small type also, but decided to buy this book... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Robert D. Aicher
We presented this volume as a gift to our award winning senior student in Political Science at Eckerd College. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Anthony R. Brunello