Tocqueville on American Character by Michael A. Ledeen
Why Tocqueville's Brilliant Exploration of the American Spirit is as Vital and Important Today as It Was Nearly Two Hundred Years Ago

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In 1831, Alexis De Tocqueville, a twenty-six-year-old French aristocrat, spent nine months travelling across the United States. From the East Coast to the frontier, from the Canadian border to New Orleans, Tocqueville observed the American people and the revolutionary country they'd created. His celebrated Democracy in America, the most quoted work on America ever written, presented the new Americans with a degree of understanding no one had accomplished before or has since. Astonished at the pace of daily life and stimulated by people at all levels of society, Tocqueville recognized that Americans were driven by a series of internal conflicts: simultaneously religious and materialistic; individualistic and yet deeply involved in community affairs; isolationist and interventionist; pragmatic and ideological.

Noted author Michael Ledeen takes a fresh look at Tocqueville's insights into our national psyche and asks whether Americans' national character, which Tocqueville believed to be wholly admirable, has fallen into moral decay and religious indifference.

Michael Ledeen's sparkling new exploration has some surprising answers and provides a lively new look at a time when character is at the center of our national debate.

 

About Michael A. Ledeen

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Michael A. Ledeen, a noted political analyst, is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the author of Machiavelli on Modern Leadership and is a contributor to The Wall Street Journal. He lives and works in Washington D.C.
 
Published October 5, 2001 by Truman Talley Books. 242 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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Sometimes the flimsy premise breaks down altogether: when de Tocqueville voices his pessimism or reveals paradoxes too unequivocally to ignore (stating, for example, that “freedom of opinion does not exist in America”), Ledeen simply disregards the philosopher’s judgment, concluding that “de Tocq...

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