- Publisher: The Folio Society; Third Printing edition (2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0553900382
- ISBN-13: 978-0553900385
- Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7 x 2.8 inches
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (227 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,515,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Democracy In America Hardcover – 2004
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In 1831 French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville came to the United States to investigate its prison system. America was then a nation of 13 million people populating 24 states, with a largely unsettled territorial claim stretching westward to the Pacific. Seriously distracted from his original mission, the 25-year-old Tocqueville ended up writing about America's people, culture, history, geography, politics, legal system, and economy in ways so insightful and prophetic that today historians, professors, and politicians still consider his work Democracy in America a classic.
"For [Tocqueville] America was both the enticing object and the universal symbol of a New World in the making," writes historian and author Daniel J. Boorstin in his introduction to Volume I. "He was a master at seeing and describing the symbolism. Even more important, he wrote with an uncanny feeling for the grand currents of history and with a wholesome sense of how much and how little we can deflect those currents." This edition, the first in a two-volume set, is the Henry Reeve text, revised by Francis Bowen, and further edited by Phillips Bradley. (Click here for information about Volume II of Democracy in America.) If you've never read Democracy in America, take this opportunity to discover Tocqueville's startlingly astute observations on a democracy in its infancy. --This text refers to the Paperback 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 Paperback edition.
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.
What Tocqueville finds is a unique nation. Unlike most other nascent states in history, the English who moved to America found a huge land, practically devoid of people (and in those cases where it was inhabited, they were easily killed), where everybody could be a landowner. This, plus the particular ethics of the Puritans, the glorifiaction of hard work, thrift and virtuosity, provided for a prosperous, practical people (not necessarily tolerant, especially in religious affairs). Far away from kings and emperors, Americans developed a communal democracy. So far so good, Tocquevill really admires the basic qualities of the US.
But this book is not a long eulogy of democracy. Tocqueville admits democracy is the best way to govern a modern society, but that does not mean he thinks it's perfect or endlessly beneficial. Democracy DOES poses risks: among others, the tyranny of the majority, the mediocrity towards which it impels mores; the loneliness of the individual, lost amidst an endless, faceless crowd.Read more ›
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 ›
This version is worth the extra money.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Filled with historical recounts of a blossoming democracy. De Toqueville saw the pitfalls that would become of our union and forecasted tthem with almost startling precision. Read morePublished 1 month ago by J. Manis
BIG book, but was recommended by Ron Paul so I got it. Good shipment.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
The book is an observation and interpretation of Democracy in the newly formed United States of America, by a foreign visitor, gifted with great insight and understanding.Published 3 months ago by robert king