American Vertigo by Bernard-Henri Levy
Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville

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What does it mean to be an American, and what can America be today? To answer these questions, celebrated philosopher and journalist Bernard-Henri Lévy spent a year traveling throughout the country in the footsteps of another great Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, whose Democracy in America remains the most influential book ever written about our country.
The result is American Vertigo, a fascinating, wholly fresh look at a country we sometimes only think we know. From Rikers Island to Chicago mega-churches, from Muslim communities in Detroit to an Amish enclave in Iowa, Lévy investigates issues at the heart of our democracy: the special nature of American patriotism, the coexistence of freedom and religion (including the religion of baseball), the prison system, the “return of ideology” and the health of our political institutions, and much more. He revisits and updates Tocqueville’s most important beliefs, such as the dangers posed by “the tyranny of the majority,” explores what Europe and America have to learn from each other, and interprets what he sees with a novelist’s eye and a philosopher’s depth.
Through powerful interview-based portraits across the spectrum of the American people, from prison guards to clergymen, from Norman Mailer to Barack Obama, from Sharon Stone to Richard Holbrooke, Lévy fills his book with a tapestry of American voices–some wise, some shocking. Both the grandeur and the hellish dimensions of American life are unflinchingly explored. And big themes emerge throughout, from the crucial choices America
faces today to the underlying reality that, unlike the “Old World,” America remains the fulfillment of the world’s desire to worship, earn, and live as one wishes–a place, despite all, where inclusion remains not just an ideal but an actual practice.
At a time when Americans are anxious about how the world perceives them and, indeed, keen to make sense of themselves, a brilliant and sympathetic foreign observer has arrived to help us begin a new conversation about the meaning of America.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Bernard-Henri Levy

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Bernard-Henri Lévy is a philosopher, journalist, activist, and filmmaker. He was hailed by Vanity Fair magazine as "Superman and prophet: we have no equivalent in the United States." Among his dozens of books are American Vertigo, Barbarism with a Human Face, Who Killed Daniel Pearl? and Left in Dark Times. His writing has appeared in a wide range of publications throughout Europe and the United States. His films include the documentaries Bosna! and A Day in the Death of Sarajevo. Lévy is co-founder of the antiracist group SOS Racism and has served on diplomatic missions for the French government. Michel Houellebecq has won the prestigious Prix Novembre in France as well as the lucrative International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. He lives in Ireland.
Published December 18, 2007 by Random House. 322 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Travel, Business & Economics. Non-fiction

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BC Books

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But in the perceptive but sometimes didactically dizzying American Vertigo: Traveling America In The Footsteps of Tocqueville, Levy does concede to having been mistaken, along with many of his compatriotic intellectuals, on the significance of French political philosopher and historian Tocquevil...

Jan 28 2006 | Read Full Review of American Vertigo: Traveling A...

Entertainment Weekly

Lévy superbly conveys multiple, sometimes contradictory ideas, describing America as ''greedy and modest, drunk at once with materialism and religiosity, puritan and outrageous, facing toward the future and yet obsessed with its memories.'' Originally posted Jan 20, 2006 Published in issue ...

Jan 25 2006 | Read Full Review of American Vertigo: Traveling A...

Bookmarks Magazine

The renowned French aristocrat, reformer, and theorist Alexis de Tocqueville’s visit to America in the 1830s produced the beloved two-volume Democracy in America.

Aug 28 2007 | Read Full Review of American Vertigo: Traveling A...

India Today

It gives a particular turn to public opinion and a particular twist to the laws, new maxims to those who govern and particular habits to the governed," wrote the most influential French traveller in America in the mid-19th century.

Mar 13 2006 | Read Full Review of American Vertigo: Traveling A...

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