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Democracy in America (Everyman's Library) Hardcover – May 10, 1994
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“No better study of a nation’s institutions and culture than Tocqueville’s Democracy in America has ever been written by a foreign observer.” –The New York Times
“The Bradley edition of Tocqueville’s classic is the best now available in English.” –Charles A. Beard
“Professor Bradley’s edition should remain the standard one for our time.” –F. O. Matthiessen
With an Introduction by Alan Ryan
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French
Top customer reviews
Alexis de Tocqueville provides unique and informative prospectives from his travels through America within two generations of it's founding. Obviously a well-read, intelligent, and informed, he contrasts the adoption of the principles of individual liberty in America with the much different conditions in Europe. While his emphasis is on 'democracy', it is actually a study on how the strengths of democracy that secure individual Liberty were applied while avoiding the pitfalls experienced by every other attempt to apply democracy that end in tyranny of the majority.
Highly recommended for anyone interested in the America that created the most amazing example of self-rule: the Constitutional Republic that has produced the most productive, inclusive, innovative, charitable and powerful society in human history.
As America confronts assaults on our Constitutional Republic from within and without, it is inspiring to be reminded how exceptional is the American Experiment; and how essential it is that informed Sovereign Citizens restore the Constitutional governance that is American Exceptionalism.
I can't possibly begin to touch on every issue Tocqueville discusses in this book, but I'll try to mention a few. For Tocqueville, America offered a unique opportunity for democracy to grow and flourish. He discusses the advantages of geographic location, the Puritan settlers in New England, the townships that developed, the formation of the states and the eventual Union formally established by the U.S. Constitution written in 1787. In addition to the external factors that evinced a democratic society, he gave careful attention to the interests, beliefs, habits and mores that united Americans North and South, East and West (though there were some obvious economic and social differences between these geographic segments).
America did not possess a ruling class, and Tocqueville discusses what he called the equality of conditions that he saw in this county. Americans believed they were equal to each other, especially in regards to their ability to obtain wealth and prosperity. The people also viewed themselves as sovereign; they had representative leaders, but ultimately those leaders were and remain accountable to the people. Tocqueville is not hesitant to point out some bad sides to democracy, or at least potentially bad tendencies that could develop. Such topics as the tyranny of the majority, individual impotence in the face of democracy's dependence on the force of the public as a single body, lack of greater intellectual pursuits and accomplishments (though he admits this is a result of our busy lives and our desire to find quick answers and solutions). He seems to be most disappointed with the mediocrity that he sees as resulting when all things seem equal. The dangers of tyranny and despotism also linger.
Tocqueville saw signs of potential future conflict, especially considering the presence of slavery. He envisioned a war between the races as very possible. He also discussed the effects of white settlement and their interaction with the Native Americans as well. His judgement seemed to be that the Native Americans were doomed once the white settlers arrived and started moving west. In addition to conflicts among people, he saw the growing concentration of power as almost inevitable. Our history has especially proven the growth of our national government. And there are so many other observations Tocqueville discusses on the future of democracy not only in this country, but for any democratic society. He had his fears and hopes.
There are so many things I'm leaving out, but I was truly impressed with this man's astute observations on our form of government and our society in general and what some of the positive and negative sides to democracy were (and are). There are topics touched on that will cause you to immediately grasp how applicable they are to life today. A must read.
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survives this archaic "translation" into late 19 th century textbook obtuseness.Read more