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Democracy in America, Volume 2 Paperback – February 22, 2010
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Democracy in America is the classic analysis of America's unique political character, quoted heavily by politicians and perennially popping up on history professors' reading lists. The book's enduring appeal lies in the eloquent, prophetic voice of Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859), a French aristocrat who visited the United States in 1831. A thoughtful young man in a still-young country, he succeeded in penning this penetrating study of America's people, culture, history, geography, politics, legal system, and economy. Tocqueville asserts, "I confess that in America I saw more than America; I sought the image of democracy itself, with its inclinations, its character, its prejudices, and its passions, in order to learn what we have to fear or hope from its progress."
In addition to a brilliant, perceptive outline of "the philosophical method of the Americans," Volume II of Democracy in America includes the oddly modern-sounding "Why the Americans Are So Restless in the Midst of Their Prosperity," the surprising and provocative "How Americans Understand the Equality of the Sexes," and the more archaic "The Study of Greek and Latin is Peculiarly Useful in Democratic Communities." This edition--which many consider the best--contains the Henry Reeve text, revised by Francis Bowen, and further edited with introduction, editorial notes, and bibliographies by Phillips Bradley. --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
"No better study of a nation's institutions and culture than Tocqueville's Democracy in America has ever been written by a foreign observer; none perhaps as good."
--The New York Times
Praise for the work of Joseph Epstein:
"Epstein is one of the premier contemporary American essayists...What is so remarkable about Epstein as an essay writer is that he'll begin a discussion at some personal place...and end up in another place relevant to us all. He enjoys making language work, not making it jump through hoops for show." --Booklist
"Joseph Epstein is an essayist in the brilliant tradition of Charles Lamb. He moves so effortlessly from the amusingly personal to the broadly philosophical that it takes a moment before you realize how far out into the intellectual cosmos you've been taken."
"Joseph Epstein's essays no more need his identifying byline than Van Gogh's paintings need his signature. Epstein's style--call it learned whimsy--is unmistakable; for Epstein addicts, indispensable."
"Joseph Epstein is the liveliest, most erudite and engaging essayist we have." --James Atlas
"If Epstein's ultimate ancestor is Montaigne, his more immediate master is Mencken. Like Mencken, he has fashioned a style that successfully combines elegance and even bookishness with street-smart colloquial directness. And there is nothing remote or aloof about him."
--John Gross, Chicago Tribune
From the Paperback edition. --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
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Top customer reviews
Apart from this specific translation/edition, I don't think that I can add much that isn't already out there about Democracy in America other than perhaps to point out that you are much less likely to find it interesting if you are not at least somewhat familiar with 18th and 19th century French history. If this is the case, I would recommend at least reading "Revolutionary France 1770-1880" by François Furet prior to starting Democracy in America.
survives this archaic "translation" into late 19 th century textbook obtuseness.
If diagrammed the grammar of typical sentence would suggest an aerial image of the Mississippi delta, including (almost) the alligators.
Hard to imagine an editor allowing the folly of interjecting footnotes smack dab in the middle
of the text .... and the same type point.
It may be, as the editor boasts, a verisimilitude: an English equivalent of mid-18th century French.
But why? We are not French, and this is the 21 St Century ... buzzing along in hit-the-ground running 'Merica.
'Tis we who, one supposes, are the intended customers.
I'll slog through it cuz the tale is extraordinary and the (original)author incredibly prescient.
And it reminds me of my first adventures in reading: ancient tomes in my grandmother's library ... yes; 80+ years ago.
Go ahead. Buy it. It's a romp.
are the hoped for consumers, yes?
For me, that wisdom includes: (1) That the greatness of the U.S. was brought about, not so much by the geographic separation or the immense natural resources of the U.S. compared to that of the old world, as is often alleged, but by the strong and self-reliant morality of the people that had developed in the colonies, which is seldom if ever alleged; (2) The importance of localism in the early U.S. political structure --- meaning that more political power rested in the hands of local politicians closer to the situation at hand and to the people they represent, rather than in the hands of a distant federal government --- just the opposite of today's incompetent, debt-ridden structure; (3) The entangling effects that slavery had on all societal, economic, moral and political systems of the South, and why it was not possible for it to end in the U.S. without a lot of bloodshed; (4) The plight of the American Indian, and how culturally-sensitive policies implemented with paternalistic good intentions did far more damage to them than if they were simply conquered and forced into adopting our culture; (5) The immense significance of knowing whether we are living in an age of equality versus an age of aristocracy, and its effect on the social, economic, moral and political systems we adopt; and above all, (6) The great danger of democracy --- the tyranny of the majority --- or more correctly, the tyranny of those who claim the power to divine and act upon its will.
Democracy in America has turned out to be prophetic in many respects, and is timeless in many respects as well. The world has changed a lot since the 1830's, but I find it truly amazing how much of what Tocqueville wrote is as relevant, if not more so, today, than when he wrote it.