Democracy in America Volume 1
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Democracy in America Volume 1

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  350 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Out of Alex de Tocqueville's travels through the U.S. in the 1830's came an insightful study of a young democracy and its institutions. This 2 volume edition presents Tocqueville's original text. Footnotes, bibliography.
Paperback, 446 pages
Published August 11th 1990 by Vintage (first published 1835)
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Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jul 01, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those Interested in Democracy--and America
The book's basis was a nine month visit to America by De Tocqueville in 1831, ostensibly to study America's prison system. It was an interesting time to visit America, half-way between the establishment of the constitution and the Civil War. In the course of the visit he met former president John Quincy Adams, then incumbent Andrew Jackson, Senator Daniel Webster and Sam Houston among others. He traveled the length and breath of a country much smaller than what we see on the map now. Before the...more
sim
Uma análises apaixonante e isenta dos primeiros anos da Democracia Americana.
Tocqueville conseguiu antever a decadência do Sul e guerra de Secessão, o domínio continental americano, a praticamente extinção dos índios. A premonição da ascendência dos Estados Unidos e Russia a super potências é visionária
Tem piada ver como a carga fiscal e uso dos rendimentos dos impostos mudou ao longo dos anos e a passagem do isolacionismo de uma primeira fase quase sem forças militares para a suprema potência...more
Saul
de Tocqueville definitely has a lot of insightful things to say about America and democracy, but it's hard to see where his biases end and the facts begin. He has a very odd (to a modern reader) pro-aristocracy pro-religion France-slanted point of view. This means that much of the time, he tries to cherry-pick examples from America to make points relevant to his domestic politics. If you've read his other works, you know he's an ardent monarchist, and this often colors his perception of the pres...more
Jesse Schexnayder
The destiny of the American people, as the sovereign power of the United States, consequently revolves about both their written laws and, equally as important, their moral values.

Both of these have gone through cycles, highs and lows; the eddies and storms of American history. It is easy for us now to be caught up in the concerns of our present day, but there is infinite value in looking back in time to where we were, and what the root causes are for our present situation.

Where do our ideals of...more
Easton
Definately a classic that should be read by anyone who loves freedom....I would think that is everyone I would hope. De Toqueville not only expounds on how each adult was in the habit of BEING government on a local level that doesn't exist today but also that it was the majority of americans's customs that made our democratic republic work well. By customs, he means the intelligence/wisdom (knowledge applied) and morals (tendancy to do right or goodness) that make us unique. In other words, our...more
Michael
This was a very worthwhile read. I think it was considerably longer than it needed to be, with quite a lot of redundancy, but I kept reading because every few pages I would come across a complete gem.

Overall, I think de Toqueville was remarkably prescient, a very intelligent socio-political observer of only 30 years old when he wrote this volume. His knowledge and insights were impressive.

To me, the most striking things were those which have not changed since those early days of our nation, and...more
Erica
Had only read pieces of this work throughout grad school, was glad to finally get through the whole first volume. Not s impressed/fascinated as I thought I would be. I generally find political writing from any period boring, though. I did appreciate his chapters on Race in America, of course, and unexpectedly, Chapter XVII: Principle Causes of Maintaining the Democratic Republic, Part III, on religion in America. May have to use it in my next blocked course (Hist 101 with Early American Religion...more
Fred
Amazing that it was written by a twenty-something Frenchman and even more amazing how relevant much of it still is. Tocqueville does a great job of remaining impartial throughout his analysis of America's strengths and weaknesses, often times pointing out inherent flaws within the American style of government that aren't readily apparent.

Not light reading by any means. Sometimes it was so dry that I had to repeat chapters in order to get through them because my mind would wander and I'd realize...more
Timo
A magnificent work, full of information and ideas.

I provided the foreword to the Laissez Faire Books ebook edition.
Renata
I have the side by side four volume English and French Edition and I quite enjoyed it!
Yann
Très bien écrit, passionnant et instructif. Toqueville, aristocrate français pénétrant et érudit, reconnaissant l'inexorable avancée de la liberté, analyse l’Amérique de la première moitiée du XIXeme siècle pour comprendre l'influence des institutions sur les mœurs, et deviner le futur de l'Europe. Les chapitres sur la naissance de l'Union sont très intéressants, ainsi que ceux sur l'équilibre des pouvoirs aux diverses échelles (comptés, état, fédération), le poids de la majorité, la question de...more
Dayla
I found much to love about this book. First of all, it is very interesting to read someone's perspective about people in the United States, and what makes them tick, from someone who is not from here. What I discovered is that we like to join groups. How many groups do you belong to?
Are you counting Triple A (the Automobile Club), the RV Association, the Book Club, the Daughters of the American Revolution, etc.

I highly recommend this book. It is well written, and some day I am going to get to t...more
Dorian Neerdael
Le premier tome de cet ouvrage de Tocqueville est une collection plate et inintéressante de faits, à propos du fonctionnement des jeunes Etats-Unis.
Mais la question qui traverse l'ouvrage, et qui est intéressante d'un point de vue historique, est "comment un Etat démocratique, qui se base sur l'opinion du vulgaire, sur la tyrannie de la majorité est-il possible ?"
En répondant à cette question, Tocqueville veut montrer à la France, son pays natal, qu'il y a plus d'avantages que d'inconvénients da...more
Mara
I still LOVE Tocqueville. I wish he were alive today to travel around and compare America today with the America he first saw. I am curious as to how religious he would think Americans are now, what he would think of our customs now in our various regions, and of course, his final analysis of democracy today in America. If only.

Of course, this is just volume one, and I am sort of cheating to count this as a book separate from volume two...
Marc Moore
The first and final thirds of this book should be required reading for all people, regardless of race, creed, whatever. It rambles a little in the middle section, but it's quite striking how observant the Frenchman was, almost 200 year's ago. His prediction that the U.S. and Russia would be the preeminent powers, for instance, was probably ridiculed at the time, given the woeful state of Russian military power, pre-Soviets.
Robert
Though this is mostly political theory (I can't bring myself to say political science), what I liked best was the sociology of America by a brilliant visitor from almost another planet. For me, there are dozens of quotable quotes. I'm very interested in this time period for a project I'm doing, and it captures agrarian New England political culture in a way that works for me.
Ziggie
De-Tocqueville's books democracy in America are important books that people need to read, to learn about your country, to learn what your schools no longer teach you, the important facts about our country that the progressive movement has been doing everything they can to erase from history. These are important books to read, to learn about the greatness of the country you live in.
Nick
Reeding De Tocquville's Democracy in America was like reading a text book. Read, think, read, think. Over the last two months I have "studied" the book.
Found many concepts of thinking outdated, but he gives us a perspective into that time (1830s).
It is a must read for all those interested in American history and government.
Arnaud Coutant
un ouvrage essentiel
un voyage au coeur de l'Amérique institutionnelle et un plaidoyer pour la découverte.
une réflexion fascinante sur cette inconnue qu'est l'Amérique.
Silrin
Même si il a omis de prendre en compte les minorités dans son étude (à la base elle visait le milieu carcéral), elle n'en demeure pas moins intéressante et montre bien les aspects séduisants que possédait la société Américaine à l'époque.
Leah
This is a good text to read in an election year . . . and it's on my master's reading list, too! Too birds with one stone! Not gonna lie . . . I feel a little smarter for having read this in the original French.
Cynthia
Nov 02, 2010 Cynthia is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Finally making a go at this one, it's been on my list for a long time. I'm enjoying it so far.
Janene
Great book. Lots of truths which is amazing because it was written so long ago.
Jean-Loup
Must read book when you live in the States and better understand this country
Leland
How fascinating how much has changed, and how much hasn't.
Lanta
Jan 15, 2010 Lanta marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Tough going so far. Good writing, but dense thoughts.
Jonathan
How little has changed and how much has changed.
Rufi
Brilliant and a delight to read.
Mischke
read at St. John's College
Sidi
Sep 30, 2011 Sidi is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mpa, javis
high rates, it will be fun.
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Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville (July 29, 1805 – April 16, 1859) was a French political thinker and historian best known for his Democracy in America (appearing in two volumes: 1835 and 1840) and The Old Regime and the Revolution (1856). In both of these works, he explored the effects of the rising equality of social conditions on the individual and the state in western societies.

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“men who so uneasily tolerate superiors patiently suffer a master, and show themselves proud and servile at the same time.” 4 likes
“This demonstrated to me that those who regard universal suffrage as a guarantee for good choices are under a complete illusion. Universal suffrage has other advantages, but not that one.” 3 likes
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