Participate in a spirited exploration of Alexis de Tocqueville and his unique observations of this young nation that resulted in the two volumes of Democracy in America. How is it possible that perhaps the greatest book about U.S. democracy ever written was penned by a Frenchman visiting this country 175 years ago? Why is it still relevant in today's ever-changing political landscape?
Tocqueville, a 25-year-old French nobleman who journeyed here in 1831, wanted to observe firsthand the successful political experiment that was evolving in the United States and take his findings home to France, which was itself trying to shape its own young democracy. The remarkable book that resulted has been called both the best book ever written about democracy and the best book ever written about America.
Published in two parts, one in 1835 and the second in 1840, it reveals, in its 700 pages, insights about democracy and the American character that have led both liberals and conservatives to claim Tocqueville as their own, often by citing the very same passages, and often out of context. Over the course of 24 spirited lectures, Professor Cook leads you on an engaging and energetic discussion on Tocqueville, his journey, his writing of Democracy in America and, most of all, his thoughts on the young nation he was observing.
You'll learn what Tocqueville had to say about the meaning of family in a democracy, race and the damage done by slavery, the crucial role of women, religion as a moral guide, the dangers of turning religion to political ends, and more. Today, Tocqueville can be both a guide and a reminder of the cultural context in which democratic institutions can develop and flourish.
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Great introduction to Tocqueville
I think Professor Cook's enthusiasm for de Toqueville and the fact that he developed this course out of his own personal interest makes for very engaged listening. Reading the class notes that are included with this purchase expand and cement my new knowledge. Dr. Cook is a very organized thinker.
I can only compare this book to my first and incomplete read of Democracy in America by de Toqueville. I stopped reading the original text because I felt I was only comprehending it on the most superficial level. I am taking this course so i can know more about the man, the times and the themes of the book. I expect that I will then be able to read Democracy in America in full and with greater understanding and depth after this class. The bonus is that Professor Cook steers the listener/reader to de Toqueville's journals, a biography .and a website to continue study on different aspects.
I found his voice a bit difficult to listen to at first until I realized how compelling his knowledge and enthusiasm was for the topic. Then I forgot about his voice and appreciated what a good educator he was. His enthusiasm for the topic is contagious.
I think I am fascinated about de Toqueville, the man, the times and the enduring observations he made. The purpose of this course is to find how his writings can be used to inform our thinking about democracy in today's times. Also, there are many tidbits of knowledge that are super fun to know like the movement to change prisons into penitentiaries so inmates could develop penitence for their crime instead of just learn how to be a better criminal! I guess that was rehabilitation 1.0.
I am inspired to learn more. Dr. Cook is opening the door to easy learning about a classic on democracy and America.
- Mary Buxton