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Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy's Guide
Alexis de Tocqueville was among the first foreigners to recognize and trumpet the grandness of the American project. His two-volume classic, Democracy in America, published in 1835, not only offered a vivid account of what was then a new nation but famously predicted what that nation would become. His startling prescience, as well as the endurance of his political ideas, h ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published November 7th 2006 by Eminent Lives
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Great book. Fascinating person. Epstein's three deep readings of Democracy in America, combined with extensive research on Tocqueville's life through other primary and secondary sources, have enabled him to paint a biographical portrait that will serve as a great introduction to Tocqueville's works. Epstein ranks Tocqueville with Plato, Montesquieu and others as one of the world's greatest, most profound and most influential political thinkers. Although Tocqueville was tormented by doubts, perso ...more
This was a short introductory bio on Tocqueville by Joseph Epstein. I had seen some of his essays before and realized he lived in the area. I gave his Tocqueville book a try and it was fairly good. He is excellent at distilling the basic ideas in Democracy in America and give an effective introduction to his life, work, and continuing relevance. This is not particularly deep but it can clearly get to the point.
Epstein writes a short biography of Tocqueville, heavy on his writings, and includes many quotations, for which he is to be thanked. He does see Tocqueville with a slight conservative eye (in part seeing in Tocqueville a fear of centralization of power ahead of everything else, but it does not overwhelm this fairly brisk read).