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Democracy in America Hardcover – November 1, 2000
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From the Inside Flap
Harvey Mansfield and Delba Winthrop's new translation of Democracy in America is only the third since the original two-volume work was published in 1835 and 1840. It is a spectacular achievement, capturing the elegance, subtlety, and profundity of Tocqueville's original. Mansfield and Winthrop have restored the nuances of his language, with the expressed goal "to convey Tocqueville's thought as he held it rather than to restate it in comparable terms of today." The result is a translation with minimal interpretation, avoiding the problem that Tocqueville himself read in the first translation of Democracy in America.
The strength of the translation is only one reason that Mansfield and Winthrop's Democracy in America will become the authoritative edition of the text. Also included is a superb and substantial introduction placing the work and its author in the broader context of the traditions of political philosophy and statesmanship. Together in one volume, the new translation, the introduction, and the translators' annotations of references no longer familiar to us combine to offer the most readable and faithful version of Tocqueville's masterpiece.
As we approach the 160th anniversary of the publication of Democracy in
America, Mansfield and Winthrop have provided an additional reason to celebrate.
Lavishly prepared and produced, this long-awaited new translation will surely become the authoritative edition of Tocqueville's profound and prescient masterwork.
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Top Customer Reviews
In a nutshell, the author is a Frenchman in the 1800s who lived through some of the French Revolution. And he set out to study America and find out why democracy in America had followed such a different path from democracy in Europe. His perspective is fascinating. Anyone interested in American politics should read this, regardless of your political beliefs.
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.
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