Alexis de Tocqueville's renowned analysis of American democracy still has relevance today. In 1831 de Tocqueville was sent to America by the French government to study the U.S. penal system, but his real aim was to observe a democratic republic firsthand to see if such an entity could function with dignity and humanity. His travels, which took him to the cities of the Northeast, to the frontier and the Great Lakes, down the Mississippi and through the South, showed him a great deal about the United States. In 1834, he wrote Democracy in America, in which he examines the advantages and pitfalls of democracy, the conditions and conflicts among the races, and the movements that grip the country.More
A classic of travel literature, of political writing, and of world history, Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America introduced America to the world before it was dry behind the ears. And since its publication in 1835, it has introduced countless Americans to themselves. This young Frenchman witnessed America in the throes of its moody pre-adolescence. His comments on economic inequality, American slavery, and the rise of America as a world power still thrill for their political insight and their prescience. The excerpts here, narrated with a fusty, old-school verve by George Guidall, are not only crucial historical documents, but constitute some of the gems of American political literature.
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Democracy in America