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De la Démocratie en Amérique #1

Democracy in America: Volume 1

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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.

446 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1835

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About the author

Alexis de Tocqueville

443 books833 followers
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.

Democracy in America (1835), his major work, published after his travels in the United States, is today considered an early work of sociology and political science. An eminent representative of the classical liberal political tradition, Tocqueville was an active participant in French politics, first under the July Monarchy (1830–1848) and then during the Second Republic (1849–1851) which succeeded to the February 1848 Revolution. He retired from political life after Louis Napoléon Bonaparte's December 2, 1851 coup, and thereafter began work on The Old Regime and the Revolution, Volume I. After obtaining a law degree, Alexis de Tocqueville was named auditor-magistrate at the court of Versailles. There, he met Gustave de Beaumont, a prosecutor substitute, who collaborated with him on various literary works. Both were sent to the United States to study the penitentiary system. During this trip, they wrote Du système pénitentiaire aux Etats-Unis et de son application (1832). Back in France, Tocqueville became a lawyer. He met the English economist Nassau William Senior in 1833, and they became good friends and corresponded for many years.[1] He published his master-work, De la démocratie en Amérique, in 1835. The success of this work, an early model for the science that would become known as sociology, led him to be named chevalier de la Légion d'honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour) in 1837, and to be elected the next year to the Académie des sciences morales et politiques. In 1841 he was elected to the Académie française.

Tocqueville, who despised the July Monarchy (1830–1848), began his political career in the same period. Thus, he became deputy of the Manche department (Valognes), a position which he maintained until 1851. In parliament, he defended abolitionist views and upheld free trade, while supporting the colonization of Algeria carried on by Louis-Philippe's regime. Tocqueville was also elected general counsellor of the Manche in 1842, and became the president of the department's conseil général between 1849 and 1851.

Apart from Canada, Tocqueville also made an observational tour of England, producing Memoir on Pauperism. In 1841 and 1846, he traveled to Algeria. His first travel inspired his Travail sur l'Algérie, in which he criticized the French model of colonization, based on an assimilationist view, preferring instead the British model of indirect rule, which did not mix different populations together. He went as far as openly advocating racial segregation between the European colonists and the "Arabs" through the implementation of two different legislative systems (a half century before its effective implementation with the 1881 Indigenous code).

After the fall of the July Monarchy during the February 1848 Revolution, Tocqueville was elected a member of the Constituent Assembly of 1848, where he became a member of the Commission charged with the drafting of the new Constitution of the Second Republic (1848–1851). He defended bicameralism (two parliamentary chambers) and the election of the President of the Republic by universal suffrage. As the countryside was thought to be more conservative than the laboring population of Paris, universal suffrage was conceived as a means to block the revolutionary spirit of Paris.

During the Second Republic, Tocqueville sided with the parti de l'Ordre against the "socialists" and workers. A few days after the February insurrection, he believed a violent clash between the workers' population agitating in favor of a "Democratic and Social Republic" and

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Profile Image for P.E..
778 reviews558 followers
November 16, 2021
“People want equality in freedom and, if they can't get it, they still want it in slavery.”
- A. de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville (1850) - Théodore Chassériau

'Has such been the fate of the centuries which have preceded our own? and has man always inhabited a world, like the present, where nothing is linked together, where virtue is without genius, and genius without honour; where the love of order is confounded with a taste for oppression, and the holy rites of freedom with a contempt of law; where the light thrown by conscience on human actions is dim, and where nothing seems to be any longer forbidden or allowed, honourable or shameful, false or true?'

What is Democracy in America?

Democracy in America is a text written by diplomat, political scientist, future deputy and minister of Foreign Affairs Alexis de Tocqueville following a 9-month journey in the United States from May 1831 to February 1832.

This fascinating study deals with the salient traits of the country, its geography, society, politics, and religion.

Tocqueville aims not only to broach the subject of the prerequisites of democracy, but also to sketch as faithful a portrait as possible of its fundamental institutions, developing several hypotheses as to the future of this political entity, based on its structural strenghts and flaws and in the end use it a tool for the comparative assessment of other regimes in Europe, such as the constitutional July Monarchy in France.

The United States in 1832 [tngenweb.org]

Here are some salient ideas in his text:

1) The birth of such a Republic owes much to the existence of small Puritan colonies in New England, forming the prototype of modern political constitutions, with civil liberties and a communal network of townships & counties as the basis of society.

2) Inheritance laws, dividing it equally between the heirs, nips in the bud hereditary privileges & shapes US society inasmuch as it drives the younger children move and settle in Western territories.

3) The fundamental difference between Northern states and Southern states and the appalling influence of slavery in the Southern states as a whole endanger the longevity of the Union.

4) The upsides & downsides of federal government, the balance of power between federal government & states:

Cases when the States refuse to comply with demands from the former:

In 1812, at the onset of the Anglo-American War, Connecticut and Massachusetts refused to send militia in the North as requested by the Federal Government.

In 1824 and 1828, Southern States opposed the Tarif voted by the Congress & put to use the doctrine of nullification, stating that the Union was from the start a league of independent states, free to interpret and nullify a law, thereby endangering the federal link in the Union.

5) Democratic republics, when no longer moderated by their President, Senate and mores (education, religion,...), run the risk of being overthrowned by the tyranny of the majority. The tyranny of the majority occurs when flatterers & demagogues take the lead, fostering egalitarian passions to the point of subverting the basic rules of democracy to suit their agenda. Tocqueville notice there are fewer balancing principles or bodies in a Republic to oppose the sheer strength of the majority. He must have borne in mind the sorry state of the French Republic in 1799, when all sorts of political minorities have undergone severe repression at the hands of the majority, be it the Girondins, Robespierre, the Directory...

6) Alexis de Tocqueville lists some warrants against the emergence of such a mob rule as France has known formerly in the wake of the French Revolution: education, civic education in particular, freedom of the press, religion.

7) He also warns against the withdrawal of the citizens from public life, which infallibly must bring a change in the nature of political power: civil rights go hand in hand with civil duties.

8) Concerning the future of the "three races" inhabitating the territory of the US (Whites, Blacks, Native Americans). AdT deems the use of African slaves a great woe, entailing only more woes in the future. He compares this brand of slavery to that in use under the Roman Empire and observes that the former is far worse, if only because it associates slavedom with race, creating unsurpassable segregating prejudices.

9) He also foresees the Mexican War & the change of nature of the political regime as the United States gain territory, with the Federal government gaining power as the US leads wars & gains territory.

And somehow predicts an era when world supremacy is shared by the US and Russia.


Unfortunately, the author doesn't address thoroughly the consequences of industrialisation on an socio-economic point of view. Still, when you spent 9 months in a country, especially a country this large, you have to make choices, I imagine.

The author also relies consistently on providence to explain the process leading to the progress of the Anglo-American colonists in the North American subcontinent, however, he also gives precise explanatory causes making such a to mention to the "deeds" of providence quite useless and altogether dispensable in my opinion.

Weird echoes:

Strangely enough, this work echoed some major points made by S.T. Joshi & his subject Howard Phillips Lovecraft in the biography I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H. P. Lovecraft, Volume 1, especially regarding the specificity of New England or the freedom of press in the US.


Allegorical history of the United States:
The Martian Chronicles
Fahrenheit 451

About the French and American Revolutions:
Reflections on the Revolution in France
La Révolution française déclare la guerre à l'Europe : L'embrasement de l'Europe à la fin du XVIIIe siècle

Reflections on the influence of climate and geography on political regimes:
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World

On the evolution of work in modern societies and how it shaped society:
Le travail - Une sociologie contemporaine

Brave New World
Brave New World Revisited

Campaign Map America - Empire Total War OST


« Les peuples veulent l’égalité dans la liberté et, s’ils ne peuvent l’obtenir, ils la veulent encore dans l’esclavage »

'Tous les siècles ont-ils donc ressemblé au nôtre ? L'homme a-t-il toujours eu sous les yeux, comme de nos jours, un monde où rien ne s'enchaîne, où la vertu est sans génie, et le génie sans honneur [...] où la conscience ne jette qu'une clarté douteuse sur les actions humaines, où rien ne semble plus défendu, ni permis, ni honnête, ni honteux, ni vrai, ni faux ?'

De la Démocratie en Amérique

Dans ce texte publié en 1835 à la suite d'un voyage de neuf mois entrepris aux États-Unis, le diplomate, futur député et ministre aux Affaires Étrangères Alexis de Tocqueville étudie les traits de la République fédérale : sa géographie, sa société et ses mœurs, son système politique et juridique, sa religion.

Tocqueville cherche à définir les facteurs favorables à l'établissement et au maintien d'une démocratie, ses atouts et ses limites et ébauche plusieurs hypothèses sur l'avenir de ce pays.

Les États-Unis in 1832 [tngweb.org]

Quelques idées majeures :

- Ce sont les petites colonies puritaines de Nouvelle-Angleterre qui ont formé le noyau idéologique et institutionnel des futurs États-Unis. Les libertés qui leur ont été concédées par la monarchie anglaise et leur établissement précoce d'institutions communales autonomes les place à l'avant-garde politique du pays.

- Les États du Sud, dont l'économie est basée sur les plantations et leur main-d'œuvre servile, ont connu une divergence croissante avec ceux du Nord depuis l'implantation de l'esclavage en Virginie en 1619. Tocqueville montre en quoi l'influence désastreuse de l'institution esclavagiste nuit aussi bien aux États qui la pratiquent qu'à l'Union toute entière, qu'elle menace de rompre.

- Comment les lois sur l'héritage empêchent l'établissement d'une aristocratie de grands propriétaires terriens et créent une classe ouvrière mobile et active, qui va, pour une partie d'entre elle, peupler les territoires de l'Ouest.

- Quels sont les avantages et inconvénients du gouvernement fédéral ? Quel est le rapport de pouvoir entre États et État fédéral.

A.d.T. propose quelques exemples où les États s'opposent ouvertement à la volonté de l'État fédéral, (encore très faible avant la Guerre de Sécession, 1861-5) :

-> 1812, pendant la guerre Anglo-américaine, le Connecticut et le Massachusetts refusent d'envoyer leurs milices au nord de l'Union pour la défendre des armées Anglaises.

-> Suite aux droits de douane votés par le Congrès en 1824 et 1828 (pour protéger l'industrie états-unienne), les États du Sud qui les voient comme une mesure coûteuse et nuisible à leurs exportations agricoles opposent une doctrine, la "Nullification", qui revient à nier les fondements mêmes de la fédération entre les États, et lèvent des armées. Le Congrès abandonne alors.

- Le risque que les démocraties tombent dans la tyrannie de la majorité. Pour Tocqueville, le risque est tout particulièrement grand en l'absence d'une véritable éducation civique, d'une liberté de la presse, de présidents indépendants de la majorité qui les a élus (difficile), d'une religion garante de bonnes mœurs.

Pour Tocqueville, la tyrannie de la majorité se reconnaît à un pouvoir détenu par des démagogues qui déchaînent les "passions égalitaires" de leurs électeurs, jusqu'à mettre en danger le jeu de la démocratie qui les a portés à sa tête. Le plus grand risque en démocratie, c'est que la majorité nie tout droit d'opposition à la minorité et que plus rien ne puisse s'opposer à elle. (Un air de déjà vu ?).

Tocqueville s'en garde particulièrement, étant donné que sa famille a fait les frais de la phase pré-thermidorienne de la Révolution Française...

- En même temps, il met en garde contre le retrait massif des citoyens de la vie publique, qui signe d'après lui la mort de la République, étant donné qu'il n'y a pas de droits civiques sans devoirs civiques.

- Il étudie alors l'avenir des "trois races" sur le sol de l'Union : les Blancs, les Noirs, les Américains indigènes. Il considère que l'esclavage est un grand malheur pour le Sud comme pour l'Union en général et que cette institution va entraîner de plus grands malheurs encore dans l'avenir.

En comparant l'escalavage sous l'Empire romain et celui des Noirs dans les plantations, il remarque que le second est bien plus néfaste, car contrairement à l'esclave antique, qui peut être de la même origine que son maître, l'esclavage des Noirs attache les stigmates de la servilité à une race, qui les portera toujours, même après son abolition, ce qui empêchera leur assimilation effective dans la société. Il doute fortement de la capacité des Blancs et des Noirs à cohabiter et de la société états-unienne à assimiler toutes les races dans un véritable creuset.

- Il prévoit aussi l'expansion états-unienne sur les terres du Mexique et la guerre qui s'ensuivra (en 1846-8), en partant de l'observation que chaque fois que les Anglo-Américains entrent en contact avec des populations d'une autre origine, il arrive ce qui est arrivé aux indigènes, aux colons français, au Texas : l'immigration, puis la conquête. Il anticipe un changement dans la nature du régime politique des États-Unis à mesure que le pays gagne en territoire et déclare plus de guerres à ses voisins.

Il finit par prédire un temps où la suprématie mondiale serait partagée par les États-Unis et la Russie.

Côté défauts, je trouve que Tocqueville n'a pas vraiment abordé les questions que pose l'industrialisation rapide du pays sur les populations qui ne partent pas vers l'ouest, mais qui restent travailler dans les manufactures. C'est dommage. Mais bon, en neuf mois, j'imagine qu'il faut choisir : on ne peut pas tout voir.

Son appel fréquent aux desseins de la providence m'a légèrement agaçé, mais je vois maintenant que ses observations précises et ses explications rigoureuses permettent de se passer complètement de toute raison d'ordre divin qui serait invoquée pour justifier la conquête du nouveau monde.

Le parallèle bizarre :

Alors, pendant ma lecture, il est arrivé quelque chose de très étrange, je ne sais pas si ça vous arrive parfois ? Alors que je lisais De la démocratie en Amérique, je lisais dans le même temps la biographie de l'écrivain Lovecraft. Bon. Il se trouve que les remarques du biographe Joshi et celles de Lovecraft sur l'architecture, les traits de société, les spécificités de la Nouvelle-Angleterre font écho à celles de Tocqueville. Et attention, ce n'est pas sur un simple point de détail, c'est sur tout ! La Nouvelle-Angleterre est un paysage majeur dans les deux bouquins ! Pourtant, I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H. P. Lovecraft, Volume 1, c'est une lecture que j'ai entrepris depuis un bon mois (le 2 juillet 2020 pour être précis) et sans rapport avec l'histoire institutionnele des États-Unis, et les deux livres se recoupent. Je trouve ça assez fou.


Une histoire allégorique des États-Unis :
Chroniques martiennes
Fahrenheit 451

À propos des révolutions française et états-unienne :
Reflections on the Revolution in France
La Révolution française déclare la guerre à l'Europe : L'embrasement de l'Europe à la fin du XVIIIe siècle

Observations sur l'influence réciproque de la géographie, du climat et des humains :
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World

Sur l'évolution du travail dans les sociétés modernes et son influence sur les sociétés civiles :
Le travail - Une sociologie contemporaine

Dystopies :
Nous autres
Le Meilleur des mondes
Retour au meilleur des mondes

Campaign Map America - Empire Total War OST
Profile Image for Lisa (Harmonybites).
1,834 reviews341 followers
July 2, 2012
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 Mexican-American War and Western expansion and he visited both North and South: New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans.

The book is labelled as both American History and Political Science. De Tocqueville said the first volume was more about America, the second about democracy. The introduction by Mansfield and Winthrop, the translators and editors of the edition I read, called it both the best book on America and the best on democracy. That despite it being written by a French aristocrat--at least by birth although the introduction describes him as a democrat and liberal by conviction.

De Tocqueville says in his own introduction he did not mean to write a "panegyric" to America. He's critical, at times presciently so, of America and democracy both, and doesn't pull his punches about how slavery and racism might pull apart the country. He doesn't hesitate to call slavery "evil" and his depiction of the plight of Native Americans is both insightful and heartbreaking. Surprisingly so, not what I expected from a Westerner writing in the 19th Century. Yet despite some sharp criticisms--and it being written by an outsider, a foreigner, the book has been embraced and quoted by Americans both from the Left and Right. It's said to be commonly assigned in political science courses and I wish some excerpts had been assigned in mine, instead of the execrable People's History by Zinn. De Tocqueville in the end strikes me as much more credible, still relevant and much more thought-provoking about democracy and its faultlines--especially the "tyranny of the majority."

That's not to say this first volume is easy--and this is the more "popular" half of the two volume work. At times I considered giving up on it, slapping a two star rating as too tedious to read. Parts are a slog. I suggest anyone tackling this buy a paperback copy they don't feel hesitant to mark up and highlight and that they take it in short doses. This isn't one of those light, entertaining books. This isn't dessert or junk food. It's a meaty dish; one you chew on and parts can be hard to digest. But the man is brilliant. And it's surprising to me how 200 years later so much resonates in this book and is relevant to contemporary America and its politics. Well worth the effort to anyone interested in democracy or America.
Profile Image for Patrick Peterson.
473 reviews202 followers
January 12, 2021
2021-01-11 I read this in college for an independent study course in Government my senior year (1976-7). I remember having difficulty with the language and focusing on other books in the course, but still liking this.

And of course I have seen GREAT references to many aspects of this book many times since then.

It is very insightful about the power and benefits of individualism in early America vs. the collectivism and authoritarianism in Europe.

I would really like to make time to read it again, since America's political and cultural evolution has been away from what de Tocqueville saw here in the early 1800s, and toward the problems he saw so common in Europe then.
Profile Image for Thomas.
490 reviews83 followers
June 6, 2019
Tocqueville states at the beginning that "nothing will be easier than to criticize this book should anyone care to do so." He's right. This is basically a long opinion piece based on various and disparate observations, which is why he's so often quoted on both sides of an issue. Sometimes his opinions seem well founded, sometimes not. Sometimes they contradict each other because he tries to see both sides -- these sides are usually framed in terms of American democracy vs. European aristocracy -- and the overall picture he paints seems learned and objective. And then in the next chapter he'll say something that seems based on a single observation made from the deck of a steam boat on the Ohio river. His lack of rigor is frustrating for a reader who wants to take him seriously, and his generalizations makes him easy bait for the critic.

That said, the first volume (on the American political system) is still thought provoking and relevant, if only from an historical perspective.

Profile Image for Annie Monson.
162 reviews14 followers
April 7, 2021
Like a great counselor, de Tocqueville gets to the heart of America, making sense of our behavior. And like a real person, America’s greatest strengths can also be her pitfalls.

With incredible powers of observation and interpretation, he illuminates the inseparable connection between our
history & values,
values & laws,
laws & formation,
formation & behavior.
(To be unfairly simplistic).

Writing in the mid-1800s, he explores some of the most pressing issues we find in our time, like our racial dynamics and vitriolic election seasons. A historical perspective is always more important than we make it.

My heart swelled with pride for my special, resilient country, and my mind was comforted with understanding her better. Recommended to all Americans, because self-awareness is a most powerful tool.

(I know nothing about translations, but this edition was beautifully written, so I imagine the translators did a wonderful job!)
Profile Image for Yann.
1,409 reviews348 followers
July 22, 2011
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 l'esclavage, et les différences entre nord et sud. Se lit avec plaisir.
80 reviews5 followers
December 25, 2010
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 liberty and freedom coupled inextricably with responsibility and common decency spring from? And what kind of people will we become, and what type of government will we tolerate, if, through sudden revolution or insipid "progress", we the people one day reject the fundamental principles which nourish liberty?

As De Tocqueville states:

"That Providence has given to every human being the degree of reason necessary to direct himself in the affairs that interest him exclusively is the grand maxim upon which civil and political society rests in the United States.

The father of a family applies it to his children, the master to his servants, the township to its officers, the county to its townships, the state to the counties, the Union to the states; and when extended to the nation, it becomes the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people."

When we, as a nation, totally turn our backs on this concept of individual and provincial responsibility and God-given inalienable rights, then we have secured the tyrant's path to despotic power, and we will for an indeterminate amount of time deny the blessings of true freedom to our children. But, so far in our history, we have not made this grave error, and that constant cycle of ideas, of laws, of morality, and, yes, of religion, is turning the tide again.

Democracy in America, read in conjunction with the Federalist Papers, provides the seminal discourse on the Founders' intent, and gives the added bonus of the impartiality of an unbiased observer who is honestly seeking to know the inner workings and the ultimate fate of America. It may be dry at times, but it is refreshingly free of the activist interpretation and encroachment on individual liberties that have so often been employed by an ever more ambitious federal government, and those within and around it who fear the check of constitutional limitations on their grand designs for humanity.

My children will be reading this book one day, whether or not it is touched upon in their schools. I consider it to be my responsibility to them, to their important roles as future citizens. In 1830, De Tocqueville observed that every American, of every class, knew the Constitution, the constraints of State and Federal power, and the extent of their individual liberties intimately. That state of understanding in the general populace was not a miraculous coincidence, but merely the inevitable result of a people who placed great value in educating themselves and their children, and it can be easily repeated if we look to those who have forged the path of human freedom as our inspiration.
Profile Image for saïd.
6,320 reviews978 followers
January 28, 2022
Les peuples veulent l'égalité dans la liberté et, s'ils ne peuvent l'obtenir, ils la veulent encore dans l'esclavage.
Profile Image for Christopher.
201 reviews
November 15, 2021
Written close to 30 years before the US civil war he wrote;

"The Union may, however perish in two different ways: One of the federated states may choose to retire from the compact, and so forcibly to sever the Federal tie....the second union would perish, like the first, by a sort of senile imbecility. The gradual weakening of the Federal tie, which may finally lead to the dissolution of the Union."

Profile Image for Jack W..
77 reviews1 follower
June 9, 2022
Everyone should have to read this book in order to vote, write a book, tweet, or give a speech in the United States.
Profile Image for Hiéroglyphe.
226 reviews1 follower
October 4, 2019
C'est difficile à croire, mais ce livre écrit il y a presque deux siècles est toujours -dans ses grandes lignes- pertinent pour comprendre le monde actuel. Les États-Unis évidemment mais la France et plus généralement toutes les démocraties modernes.

On y trouve aussi bien la description des rouages de la constitution américaines et des causes qui ont donnée à ce pays un souffle démocratique qui demeure vivace, que des réflexions plus générales sur les effets probable de la démocratie dans l'avenir. Passionnant.

« Que m'importe, après tout, qu'il y ait une autorité toujours sur pied, qui veille à ce que mes plaisirs soient tranquilles, qui vole au-devant de mes pas pour détourner tous les dangers, sans que j'aie même le besoin d'y songer ; si cette autorité, en même temps qu'elle ôte ainsi les moindres épines sur mon passage, est maîtresse absolue de ma liberté et de ma vie ; si elle monopolise le mouvement et l'existence à tel point qu'il faille que tout languisse autour d'elle quand elle languit, que tout dorme quand elle dort, que tout périsse si elle meurt ?
Il y a telles nations de l'Europe où l'habitant se considère comme une espèce de colon indifférent à la destinée du lieu qu'il habite. Les plus grands changements surviennent dans son pays sans son concours ; il ne sait même pas précisément ce qui s'est passé ; il s'en doute ; il a entendu raconter l'événement par hasard. Bien plus, la fortune de son village, la police de sa rue, le sort de son église et de son presbytère ne le touchent point ; il pense que toutes ces choses ne le regardent en aucune façon, et qu'elles appartiennent à un étranger puissant qu'on appelle le gouvernement. Pour lui, il jouit de ces biens comme un usufruitier, sans esprit de propriété et sans idées d'amélioration quelconque. Ce désintéressement de soi-même va si loin que si sa propre sûreté ou celle de ses enfants est enfin compromise, au lieu de s'occuper d'éloigner le danger, il croise les bras pour attendre que la nation tout entière vienne à son aide. [...]
Quand les nations sont arrivées à ce point, il faut qu'elles modifient leurs lois et leurs mœurs, ou qu'elles périssent, car la source des vertus publiques y est comme tarie : on y trouve encore des sujets, mais on n'y voit plus de citoyens.
Je dis que de pareilles nations sont préparées pour la conquête. Si elles ne disparaissent pas de la scène du monde, c'est qu'elles sont environnées de nations semblables ou inférieures à elles ; c'est qu'il reste encore dans leur sein une sorte d'instinct indéfinissable de la patrie, je ne sais quel orgueil irréfléchi du nom qu'elle porte, quel vague souvenir de leur gloire passée, qui, sans se rattacher précisément à rien, suffit pour leur imprimer au besoin une impulsion conservatrice.
Profile Image for Alex.
231 reviews3 followers
August 23, 2018
With the eyes of a disinterested foreign lawyer and the cool mind of a philosopher, the author clearly dissects and analyzes all the relationships between the states, the union, and the individual citizens. He details all parts of the governments, how and why they so formed, and the philosophy behind the design. To aid understanding, he compares the US governments with those of Europe.

The introduction is a valuable first-hand sketch of the author himself, a pious religious aristocrat who had a very low opinion on democracy in France at the time. In this part, he lists many dangers of unlearned democracy and expounds the importance and urgency of studying it.

The first chapter gives beautiful imagery of natural scenes of the New World, almost poetically, summarizing its geography, and of the noble spirits and manner of Native Americans.

In the subsequent chapters he describes and analyzes the American Constitution and three branches of the government, after the general structures of individual states and local governments. He explains historical, cultural, religious, and economical reasons for the development of these governments.

Finally the author uses quite a large portion of the book discussing the system of federal union and states of America. It is especially interesting to see how he builds up the conclusion of USA taking the best advantages of small republics, which favor liberty and welfare of the citizens, and large republics, which favor intellectual advancement and security, and why this best combination is more suitable to the fortunate Americans than to most other nations such as those in Europe.

This book shows the author as a deep thinker and a convincing writer. His style is detailed and careful, anticipating questions and critiques from the readers, showing his background of training as an aristocrat and analytical skills as a professional lawyer and politician.

He theorizes much; and while generously praising all the brilliant innovations of the founding fathers, he does not shy from criticizing a few mistakes, and warning about the potential dangers, left in the design of the governments.
Profile Image for ntnl.
122 reviews16 followers
June 25, 2020
Tocqueville tried to tell the story of Democracy in America which includes from geography to the people, from races to individual American's mindset. He started by tracing the history of American (Anglo-American) in colonial times and somehow he predicted that Anglo-Americans and Russians will dominate the world?

He talked in detail about freedom of press(American are smart enough not to dare to compromise it), political parties, candidates, public participation in election (Yet he didn't challenge the exclusion of women from suffrage - right to vote). Speaking of women, he discuss about women in America, their strong link with religion, and unlike French (better say most parts of the world), women in America exercised high degree of choice before they're married?

Because of the nature of American revolution, which was fought to gain independence from Great Britain, American chose tyranny of majority over Aristocracy (which how most of the world's political system worked back there), where political power is concentrated in small class of nobility. According to this book, that's why in America, political equality provides the strong foundation for democracy, a system of government in which sovereignty resides with the people and decisions are made by majority rule.

Also other ideas discussed including the role of religion in democracy, self-interest vs selfishness, individualism vs group cooperation, separation of church and religion (secularism), 'the three races in America..' whites, native-Americans, and blacks.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ken Ryu.
486 reviews5 followers
April 11, 2019
This classic book is an impressive and thorough review of the American experiment. Written in 1830, French aristocrat Tocqueville presents his view of the framework of the American government, compares the United States to Great Britain and France, and offers many prescient predictions of the future of the United States and democracy.

The book begins with Tocqueville describing the geography of the United States, which at the time of writing did not include Texas, California and most of the western states. The United States was making its inexorable push towards the Pacific, but manifest destiny was still a work in progress. The sparse population of the United States is an important factor in the uniqueness of the land rich nation and its economic opportunities.

He follows the physical description of the nation with a through breakdown in the three branches of government: the legislature with its bicameral division between the Senate and the House, the executive branch, and the judicial branch.

At this point in the nation, President Jackson was strengthening the power of the president's office, but the executive branch was still weak in comparison to our modern version. The federal government and the executive branch will increase greatly in power due to the crisis and outcome of the Civil War. The House was comprised of simple and rough folks, while the Senate attracted more sophisticated and educated members. The judicial branch in the United States was unique. It was far more common in Europe to have a multitude of high courts. For example, France had 13 regional high courts. The Supreme Court served an important purpose as it served to mediated disputes among the states. This one supreme court helped to avoid conflicting regional judicial rulings and gave the judicial branch far more power than in other nations. The federal government and the states had a more equal relation than our current government. Many states believed that the federal government was more of a tentative and malleable union, and that their state was an independent and mostly autonomous entity in the spirit of the current European Union. This notion would lead to the Civil War and General Lee's famous argument that his loyalty was first to Virginia and then the United States.

This rundown of the government, its constituents and operation is textbook material and is dry but accurate. It is impressive that a young Frenchman could so quickly grasp and articulate the complex inter working of the United States government. The next section deals with the freedoms afforded in the Bill of Rights. Tocqueville discusses freedom of religion, freedom of press, and freedom of assembly in detail. He is surprised at the faith of the average American, which is more more devoutly Christian than their European counterparts. He attributes the success, civility and order of the United States to the morality and religious duty felt by Americans. Granted their many freedoms, Americans do not devolve into debauchery and anarchy as their Christian mores constrain their antisocial notions.

He moves forward to the concept of equality and representation. Though a nation run by the people is naturally less agile and expedient than one where the power is more central and unassailable, the inclusive nature of the democratic system drives the average American to volunteer, participate and work to improve the country to the betterment of all. Harnessing the power of the multitudes, America prospered under this all-for-one concept.

Tocqueville summed up the success of United States experiment to three major factors, the geographic advantages of America, the morality and law-abiding nature of its citizens, and a well-formed and defined governmental system.

His next section discusses some dangers to the union. The primary one being the power of the states and the potential for states to opt out of the federation. He incorrectly assumed that if a state were to exit the union, that there was no legal method for the United States to block this succession. Honest Abe would show that the federal government would not tolerate such a breakup and would take military actions to block these defections.

The final section of the first of the two volumes discusses the three primary peoples of America. The Anglo-Americans, the Black Americans, and the Native Americans. He foreshadows the extermination and breakup of the great Indian tribes. He ponders the problem of slavery and the difficulty in race relations between blacks and whites no matter if slavery were to be banned or not. Almost two hundred years later, his concern about the relations between whites and blacks are all too accurate.

Along the way, Tocqueville offers excellent assessments and theories on why America has been so successful. He comes very close to predicting the population growth 100 years out. He correctly guesses at the expansion of the United States to the Pacific Ocean and the corresponding downfall and extermination of indigenous tribes. He expects Texans to continue to encroach on Mexican territory and that the United States and Mexico would be involved in a military conflict over this territory.

Tocqueville explored the United States, interviewed numerous people, studied our system of government, and used a scientific and methodical approach to detail his findings. The result is one of the most in depth, fair and well-written overviews of the United States. The fact that Tocqueville was born a Frenchman, but admired the United States, is perhaps why his writing can be trusted and does not falter from patriotic zeal and myopia. By seeing the nation at an arm's length, Tocqueville sees and present the picture with accuracy. Not an exciting read, but an impressive feat and one that will help the reader understand the history, makeup, and uniqueness of this great and complex nation.
177 reviews4 followers
December 19, 2021
Je ne mets “que” 4 / 5 en raison de la forme, pas du fond. On ne peut pas dire, en effet, que j’ai pris un grand “plaisir” à lire ce livre. Donner du plaisir n’était assurément pas l’objectif de De Tocqueville, et à cela s’ajoute que le livre date du début du 19ème siècle… mais le plaisir reste tout de même un critère à considérer !

Maintenant, sur le fond. Je n’aurais pas entrepris la lecture de De Tocqueville si je n’avais pas été fortement encouragé en ce sens par Jean-Marc Jancovici, qui est une personne que j’estime beaucoup au regard de ses productions “publiques” : ses convictions, ses combats et ses réalisations. Il recommande régulièrement cet ouvrage ; ayant pas mal d’intérêts convergents avec Jancovici, je suis donc parti des hypothèses que 1) ce qui l’intéresse pourrait aussi m’intéresser, 2) il ne recommande pas ce livre par hasard 3) cela pourra me permettre de mieux appréhender une problématique majeure devant laquelle nous nous trouvons, qui est celle de notre dépendance aux énergies fossiles.

Ce que j’ai trouvé dans le livre de Tocqueville est une réflexion poussée sur la démocratie : son mouvement (vers plus d’égalité), ses formes de gouvernement et d’administration (centralisation / décentralisation), ses avantages et ses dangers. Les pensées que j’ai trouvées dans ce livre m’ont permis d’élargir et d’affiner ma culture et mes réflexions au sujet de la politique et des différentes formes de gouvernement. En effet, on a un peu tendance, en tout cas dans mon milieu, à définir la démocratique comme étant naturellement “bonne”, et à penser un peu trop vite que plus de démocratie est toujours une bonne chose. Tocqueville nous rappelle (ou nous fait découvrir) qu’il n’y a aucune raison “supérieure” à cela. Premier argument : il n’y a pas de raison que la majorité ait plus souvent raison qu’un seul individu (ou groupe d’individus) éclairé. Second argument : la démocratie peut être la tyrannie de la majorité. Si les lois, l’exécution des lois et la justice sont toutes à la merci de la majorité, malheur à ceux qui se réclament de la minorité ! (ou seraient de facto inclus dans celles-ci)

Néanmoins, malgré son ascendance aristocratique, Tocqueville ne met pas en avant ces dangers pour conclure que la démocratie doit être combattue. Il prend en fait acte que celle-ci est le système de gouvernement vers lequel l’homme va tendre, et qu’il n’y a donc pas lieu de la combattre. A la place, il faut en fait la comprendre et la maîtriser ; car la démocratie n’a d’après lui pas d’égale pour créer la prospérité du plus grand nombre, et ses dangers peuvent être maîtrisés à condition de la mettre en place de façon intelligente.

Ainsi de la centralisation gouvernementale et administrative. Tocqueville note qu’aux Etats-Unis, le gouvernement (qui décide des lois) est centralisé tandis que l’administration (qui applique les lois) est décentralisée. Cela est vu comme une bonne chose car des lois abusives pourront être combattues, ou non appliquées, localement, par l’administration décentralisée. Tocqueville note aussi la grande importance à accorder aux durées de mandats des fonctionnaires : trop courtes, elles altèrent l’efficacité de la démocratie car les fonctionnaires se plient sans cesse aux passions de la majorité, sans cesse fluctuantes et pas nécessairement éclairées ; trop longues, et les fonctionnaires ne travaillent plus pour la majorité mais pour leurs propres intérêts.

En plus de ces pensées générales quelque peu théoriques, Tocqueville nous donne des éléments de compréhension du peuple anglo-américain et de l’Amérique. Ceux-ci incluent des passages longs et éclairants sur le traitement des Indiens et des noirs par les Américains ; rappelons qu’à l’époque de De Tocqueville, les Indiens étaient en voie de disparition sous les efforts de conquête des Anglo-Américains, tandis que les noirs étaient tenus en esclavage dans les Etats du Sud. Il fait la prédiction (qui s’est révélée correcte) que les Indiens viendront à disparaître quasi complètement sous les abus du peuple anglo-américain ; indépendamment de son immoralité totale, soulignée par Tocqueville, l’esclavage est également présenté comme un grand danger pour l’Union et d’ailleurs pas même un avantage économique pour les Etats qui le pratiquent (Etats du Sud, qui sont moins florissants que les Etats du Nord).

Il présente également quelques traits qu’on retrouve aujourd’hui : plus d’esprit pratique que théorique, l’Américain croit fermement en l’égalité de naissance, voit la volonté d’enrichissement comme une vertu, et sa méfiance envers la centralisation du pouvoir n’a d’égale que son amour du gouvernement local.

Pour finir, l’enseignement que je peux en tirer (sans pour l’instant avoir lu le Tome 2) vis-à-vis de notre problématique sur les énergies fossiles, est qu’en démocratie, pour réussir à traiter le problème, il faudra réussir à convaincre la majorité des Français que ce problème doit être traité (et on est loin du compte). Nos représentants politiques (et en premier lieu le président) ne sont finalement que des exécutants de la volonté du peuple ; on ne peut donc pas s’étonner que ceux-ci ne délivrent pas sur ce point si la majorité ne leur demande pas.

Le deuxième enseignement est que même si la majorité est convaincue, il faudra s’assurer que les institutions et les fonctionnaires sont assez bien organisés et stables pour pouvoir appliquer un programme cohérent qui ne change pas au jour le jour en fonction des passions, et donc de la tyrannie, de la majorité.
Profile Image for John Yelverton.
4,258 reviews37 followers
January 25, 2018
In this masterpiece, Alexis de Tocqueville reports on the government in America while pointing out his concerns and his beliefs of possible outcomes with the precision of an Old Testament prophet. I cannot recommend this book enough, especially for the student of history.
Profile Image for Ana Maria.
47 reviews11 followers
August 12, 2021
Pana acum, când auzeam expresia "minte luminată" nu reuseam sa înțeleg complet la ce se referea. Da, unele teorii sunt bune.  Da, unele filosofii au aplicabilitate. Da, unele parti ale unei cărți sunt geniale. Dar sa prezici la 1830 in proportie de 90% desfasurarea ulterioara a istoriei.. este o performanta care depaseste puterea de intelegere a unei minti mai puțin luminate, ca a mea, si a multora cu o minte mai luminata decât a mea.
Modul in care un popor evolueaza presupune, pe lângă datele istorice existente, si o intelegere profunda a psihologiei umane, a psihologiei maselor si a comportamentului in general. Notiuni pe care omenirea le-a pus pe hârtie si a început sa le înțeleagă abia 100 de ani mai tarziu.
Modul in care umanitatea evolueaza la nivel global ne depaseste chiar și in ziua de azi capacitatea de intelegere.
Cambridge Analytica, cu toti algoritmii lor, sunt copii mici pe lângă Tocqueville:
- viitorul razboi civil din SUA - checked ✔
- caderea aristocratiilor in Europa si instalarea treptata a republicilor democrate - checked ✔ 
- Formarea Canadei, problemele din America de Sud, viitoarele granite ale Mexicului - checked ✔
- rasismul si greutatile cu care (inca) se lupta societatea americana - checked ✔
- ascensiunea Rusiei si impartirea puterii după al 2-lea razboi mondial - checked ✔
- organizarea Chinei si supriza lumii 200 de ani mai tarziu - checked ✔
- problemele pe care le are SUA acum datorita oamenilor extrem de bogati - checked ✔
La nivel de detaliu sunt încă si mai multe aspecte pe care le-a sesizat cu o precizie absolut fantastica.

Desi cele doua volume sunt într-adevăr destul de mari, fiecare pagina si fiecare paragraf sunt atât de bine construite si scrise încât nu iti dai seama când trece timpul si ești complet uluit de usurinta cu care aseaza faptele si evenimentele atât in contextul istoric existent cat si in contextul istoric viitor.
Este de departe una dintre cele mai bune carti pe care le-am citit si pe care omenirea este suficient de norocoasa sa le aibă.. 🤯
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Greg.
602 reviews39 followers
October 25, 2020
Thanks to a superb course on Tocqueville's two volumes from the Teaching Company, I decided to read the full two volumes in a non-excerpted text, and I'm glad I decided to do this.

Tocqueville visited the United States in 1831-32, when he was only 25. His first volume reflecting on his trip was published in 1835, and it is a remarkable testament to his intelligence and writing skills. He saw, learned and remembered so much!

While a reader might be stunned by some of his predictions -- for one, that the US would likely have 110 to 150 million citizens one hundred years later, and another, that in the 20th century competition at some point would be keen between Russia and the United States -- it is he keenness of his reporting on conditions and trends in America that is truly remarkable.

And perhaps his most important observation/conclusion that has resonance for our time is this: the essence of a democratic society is "equality of conditions." By this he meant not a leveling "equality" but, rather, that all citizens would have the same opportunities for the things in life that truly mattered: education, jobs, housing, and social acceptance.

He HATED slavery, denouncing it not only for the horror that anyone could think they had the right to "own" a human being but also because it degraded white owners, too. He also said that while he believed that it would someday fade away -- for economic and social reasons, primarily -- he foresaw continued tensions between Black and white people for along time to come because of the underlying prejudices held by white and the remembered mistreatment of Blacks by whites.

In commenting on the structure of Congress -- how the House of Representatives was to be determined by population while that of the Senate by equality among and between states -- he observed that the "framers adopted a middle path that peremptorily reconciled two theoretically irreconcilable systems." He wondered how well this would continue to function into the future.

In analyzing the powers of the Supreme Court, he observes "Should imprudent or corrupt men ever fill the Supreme Court, however, the [Union] would have to fear anarchy or civil war," words that ring eerily prescient in our time.

While he properly warned against the "complete subjugation of the legislative power to the will of the electorate" -- that is, allowing the passions of the many and the heat of the moment to sway legislators away from their responsibility to exercise prudent judgement -- he also saw great danger if "all the other powers of government" might in the future become "concentrated" in the legislature. The relative weakness of the executive branch in 1831 misled him here; but, then, there is no way he could have foreseen the extreme concentration of power in the presidency that was the result of both WW II and the efforts of presidents since Lyndon Johnson to seize and retain ever more power at the expense of the legislative branch.

At bottom, Tocqueville realized that unless American citizens themselves managed to avoid extremism and to hold onto pursuing the greater good of all citizens, things might unravel badly. "...the federal system rests on a complicated theory, the application of which requires citizens to rely daily on the light of reason.

"Generally speaking, only simple conceptions can grip the mind of a nation. An idea that is clear and precise even though false will always have greater power in the world than an idea that is true but complex...." The scary part is that complex and rational thinking are, nonetheless, demanded of American citizens because the Constitution assumes that the people have a "range of diverse knowledge and discernment...." We must remember, he cautions, that "The government of the Union rests almost entirely on legal fictions. The Union is an ideal nation that exists only in the mind, as it were, and whose extent and limits can be discovered only through an effort of intelligence."

How do you think we are doing today in our "effort of intelligence"?

Recognizing that the Constitution did not anticipate political parties, he also recognizes their dangers. "In our own time," he writes, "freedom of association has become a necessary guarantee against the tyranny of the majority. Once a political party becomes dominant in the United States, all public power passes into its hands. Its partisan friends fill all offices and control all organized forces."

Therefore, he says, "nowhere are [civic and political] associations more necessary to prevent either the despotism of the parties or the arbitrariness of the prince than in countries whose social state is democratic. In aristocratic nations, secondary bodies constitute natural associations that halt abuses of power. In countries where such associations do not exist, unless private individuals can artificially and temporarily create something that resembles them, I see no impediment to any form of tyranny, and a great people can be oppressed with impunity by a handful of factious individuals or a single man."

Democracies can be fragile because "the people" are not as well educated political and economically as needed to properly discern capable and good men from those who are not. "The people never have enough time or resources to devote to the effort. They must always judge hastily and seize on whatever is most visible. That is why charlatans of every stripe are so clever at pleasing them, while more often than not their true friends fail.

"What democracy lacks, moreover, is not always the capacity to choose men of merit but the desire and taste to do so."

The Founders knew that it was ultimately up to the citizens to keep the democratic alive and vibrant. The essential ingredient for them was "civic virtue," the commitment and habit of keeping the welfare of the many as paramount over their wish to achieve self-welfare. Tocqueville called this one of the essential "mores" of a successful democracy -- true "habits of the heart."

The lasts chapter in the first volume -- over one hundred pages in length -- contains Tocqueville's observations about the "three races" that exist in North America: Native-Americans, Blacks, and European whites. These are so rich -- and unsettling -- that I wish every American could read and ponder them. It not only reinforces what he has earlier said throughout the rest of the book about slavery and its many evils, but it reminds us that America really has two cardinal and original sins: the chattel enslavement of Blacks from Africa (and children born to them in this country) and the near genocidal treatment of Native Americans.

This chapter makes for some hard reading, but it is important stuff.

Given how there are many soul-stirring discussions about just "who we are" now, in our most troubled time in a ruptured Republic, I suspect many would gain insight and inspiration from reading Tocqueville's remarkable work.
April 11, 2018
Incredible Book.

I'm not sure if this is the most misquoted book, but I can say that while reading it and discussing it with others, many seem to have opinions about it that turned out not to be supported by the writing. I was told that this is a book about the American prison system, race relations in America, slavery in America, and many more single sentence summaries.

That was not what I found. For this reason, I will not attempt to summarize what I have learned. I do not think a few words would do justice to the depth and breadth of this work.

First, this is a very long book, and the writing style is best described as opulent. The meanings of many sections are nuanced and layered and may require more than one listen or a re-read to understand Tocqueville's perspective. Further, this is a period specific writing that reflects a snapshot in American history. As with any history, one must be cautious when drawing conclusions without consideration for the progress since this writing.

This being said, I found that the information and insights emparted changed my view on many topics about our country, its people, and our shared origin. I could not recommend that everyone should read it as it is quite daunting, but I can say with some certainty that the journey is worth the effort.
Profile Image for Jose.
137 reviews57 followers
July 1, 2019
Mejor que La Democracia En América sólo se me ocurre La Apotemnofilia En Barbate.

Irrepetible por cuándo se hizo (de aquellas los EEUU presentaban un índice poblacional ni tan masivo como para ser inmarcesible ni tan parco como para no poder ir sacando tendencias y corolarios, hoy día sería tarea imposible) y por quién lo hizo: Don Alexis de Tocqueville. De arraigo pijazo pero espíritu libertario, de cuna facha pero amigo de que nadie le prohibiese un cagao; un genio capaz de follarse a una señora de polo opuesto a su ideología y con la coyunda dejar en cinta a la hermana de la susodicha.

Un hombre que escribía que te cagas (le ronda a Schopenhauer en calidad y precisión) y que fue de los que mejor expusieron todo aquello de las tensiones entre conceptos incompatibles como "libertad" y "tutela" si entendemos ambos como pares de fuerzas en el sentido de la física newtoniana.

Un libro flipante porque te desmenuza todo lo que erige y sustenta a las modernas democracias, e incluso toca procesos deconstituyentes para ulteriores independencias.

Profile Image for Juni Pontes.
32 reviews3 followers
April 26, 2020
"Da Democracia na América" de Alexis de Tocqueville é um clássico da ciência política.
É impressionante que as observações feitas por este francês durante uma viagem de 9 meses pelos EUA do século XlX tenham influenciado tanto o pensamento político ocidental contemporâneo. É de Toqueville a tese de que a Revolução Americana optou pela Liberdade, enquanto a Revolução Francesa escolheu a Igualdade.
As análises que o autor faz das forças e fraquezas da democracia, das formas de Estado e dos sistemas de governo de sua época ainda são aplicáveis hoje em dia!
As observações perspicazes e a escrita clara e concisa fazem com que a leitura deste livro seja um prazer.
770 reviews7 followers
April 18, 2023
Wherein fancy-pants Frenchman tours the States circa 1830 and not only figures it (almost) all out -- from Americans' "cupidity" and "irritable patriotism" (an early and better notion of American exceptionalism) and the "calamity of slavery," to their energy, adaptability and at least tendency toward equality -- but he explains it all quite clearly as well. And despite several serious misconceptions (including about how the chief executive's power would evolve and the North's determination to fight to maintain the Union), many if not most of his observations, predictions and prescriptions retain a remarkable resonance nearly 300 years later. Quite astonishing.

Profile Image for Peter.
231 reviews5 followers
January 12, 2018
de Tocqueville is widely cited and serves as a cornerstone for much of our American political science framework....the two volume translated work from 1835 and 1840 is 700+ pages. There is definitely a historical interest, and parts of it remain eye opening, but it is a reference book of 19th Century insights made up of many, many short chapters; rather than the clever monologue of a 20 something French person's 10 month travel trip to the strange land. That is what I had naively envisioned. For most people....I think it will be a skimmer.
Profile Image for Micael Gerosa.
13 reviews
May 27, 2018
A Democracia na América é um profundo estudo sociológico e filosófico a respeito da sociedade americana. Feito na década de 1830 por um jovem Tocqueville, o livro é recheado de excelentes observações a respeito do cidadão americano, inclusive relacionada à geografia do país. Embora o livro apresente algumas previsões que nem de longe se realizaram, ele também outras imensamente importantes que de fato ocorreram. Sugiro a leitura do Federalista antes deste livro, e se puder ler o Espírito das Leis do Montesqueiu antes também é recomendável.
Profile Image for Shay.
31 reviews
January 26, 2023
“When you approach your fellows, they will flee from you like an impure being. And those who believe in your innocence, even they will abandon you, for people would flee from them in turn. Go in peace; I spare your life, but I leave you a life worse than death.”

This is definitely a favourite among the notable works of political theory. Tocqueville’s observations on democracy in America are important as not only real time observations of the countries political state and evolution, but also as his predictions extend to the contemporary state of politics in North America.
Profile Image for Alexandre.
134 reviews1 follower
May 28, 2023
Os últimos capítulos, em particular, são muito interessantes. Tocqueville elabora um ensaio sobre racismo que me parece bem avançado para a época, e à primeira vista suas consideraçoes sobre os contornos econômicos da escravidão conversam bem com Celso Furtado. Vale uma leitura cruzada, que tentarei fazer depois.

Mas, voltando a Tocqueville, interessante notar que ele arranha os conceitos atuais de racismo estrutural/institucional, ainda que não esteja livre do "espírito de seu tempo", ou seja, Tocqueville, como todo europeu do século XIX, é racista.
257 reviews2 followers
July 27, 2023
This one is a classic, de Tocqueville has a unique and insightful perspective on early America. This my third time reading through it and I catch something new each time.

Two hundred years later his observations and predictions are better than a baseball player's but not perfect. Still, I think this is one most people should read. It's not long and it's an interesting read.

It's only four stars because it is written in a little bit of an academic style, which is a touch boring!
124 reviews
September 19, 2023
Ça se répète un petit peu et j’ai perdu le fil aux 3/4, néanmoins, il y a une analyse de ce nouveau pays que je trouve intéressante, surtout pour son côté ethnographique plutôt que l'explication du fonctionnement du gouvernement, pour lequel ma connaissance de l'histoire n'est pas assez precise pour apprécier la difference entre l'Union et la Confederation, du moins dans l'avant guerre-civile. Je pense que ça me suffira pour l'instant.
Profile Image for Shane Allen.
80 reviews
June 29, 2019
I give this classic 5 stars not because it’s consistently interesting or entertaining but because it really is a work of genius. Toucqueville was a prophet in so many ways. It would do America so much good for everyone to read it. It’s just too bad that the ones whom need it most never will.
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