Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville

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Synopsis

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-59) came to America in 1831 to see what a great republic was like. What struck him most was the country's equality of conditions, its democracy. The book he wrote on his return to France, Democracy in America, is both the best ever written on democracy and the best ever written on America. It remains the most often quoted book about the United States, not only because it has something to interest and please everyone, but also because it has something to teach everyone. When it was published in 2000, Harvey Mansfield and Delba Winthrop's new translation of Democracy in America—only the third since the original two-volume work was published in 1835 and 1840—was lauded in all quarters as the finest and most definitive edition of Tocqueville's classic thus far. Mansfield and Winthrop have restored the nuances of Tocqueville's 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, but with impeccable annotations of unfamiliar references and a masterful introduction placing the work and its author in the broader contexts of political philosophy and statesmanship. 
 

About Alexis de Tocqueville

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French writer and politician Alexis de Tocqueville was born in Verneuil to an aristocratic Norman family. He entered the bar in 1825 and became an assistant magistrate at Versailles. In 1831, he was sent to the United States to report on the prison system. This journey produced a book called On the Penitentiary System in the United States (1833), as well as a much more significant work called Democracy in America (1835--40), a treatise on American society and its political system. Active in French politics, Tocqueville also wrote Old Regime and the Revolution (1856), in which he argued that the Revolution of 1848 did not constitute a break with the past but merely accelerated a trend toward greater centralization of government. Tocqueville was an observant Catholic, and this has been cited as a reason why many of his insights, rather than being confined to a particular time and place, reach beyond to see a universality in all people everywhere.
 
Published October 18, 2012 by University of Chicago Press. 818 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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