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Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy In America

A New Translation By Arthur Goldhammer

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

Democracy in America (1835–40) is arguably the most perceptive and influential book ever written about American politics and society. This volume presents Alexis de Tocqueville’s masterpiece in an entirely new translation, the first to capture fully the precision and grace of his style while providing a rigorous and faithful rendering of his profound ideas and observations. 

A young aristocratic lawyer, Tocqueville came to the United States in 1831 with his friend and fellow magistrate Gustave de Beaumont to study American penitentiary systems. During their nine-month visit they conducted interviews with more than 200 ­people on American politics, law, and social practices. After returning to France, Tocqueville read hundreds of books and documents while reflecting on what his trip had revealed about the “great ­democratic revolution” that was transforming the Western world. 
In Democracy in America he vividly describes the unprecedented “equality of conditions” found in the United States and explores its implications for European society in th­e emerging modern era. His book provides enduring insight into the political consequences of widespread property ownership, the potential dangers to liberty inherent in majority rule, the importance of civil institutions in an individualistic culture dominated by the pursuit of material self-interest, the influence of the press and the judiciary in American politics, and the vital role of religion in American life, while prophetically examining the widening differences between the northern and southern states. In “the ideal toward which democratic peoples tend,” Tocqueville writes, men “will be perfectly free, because they will all be entirely equal, and they will all be perfectly equal because they will be entirely free.” But, he warns, their passion for liberty and their passion for equality are unequal: “They want equality in liberty, and if they cannot have it, they want it still in slavery.”

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 09, 2004 – It's hard to think of a work that has so influenced our understanding of the United States as this still the most authoritative, reflective set of observations about American institutions and the American character ever written. That its author was a Frenchman, and an aristocrat at that, and that he was balanced and penetrating has often occasioned rueful surprise. However, de Tocqueville's distance from his subject is precisely what lends his observations such continuing currency. A few decades ago, for instance, we read Tocqueville for his prediction that Russia and the United States would one day contest for pre-eminence. Now, we ought to read him (Iraqis and Afghans should, too) for his classic analyses of the link between political parties and free associations and for his reflections on such matters as religion and public life, and "self-interest properly understood." But many solid translations exist. Why another? Because the Library of America would be incomplete without this canonical work of history and sociology. And this translation by Goldhammer, the dean of American translators from the French, accomplishes what it's hard to believe possible: it lends to this unalterably grave work some zest. Never slipping into slang, it gives a colloquial cast, fitting for our time, to a work normally rendered only with high solemnity. The Library of America claims that its editions will stay in print forever. This one's likely to stand that test.
Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy In America
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  • $17.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Politics & Current Events
  • Published: May 14, 2012
  • Publisher: The Library of America
  • Seller: The Library of America
  • Print Length: 638 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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