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Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy's Guide (Eminent Lives)

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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, has firmly established Tocqueville's place in American history; his chronicle of our infancy is a fixture on every American history syllabus. Nearly all of his clairvoyant predictions about American political life, from the influence of Evangelical Christianity to the advent of our "consumer society," have come true—and on the schedule he set.

Yet in his own time, Tocqueville had little evidence for the truth of his ideas. Introspective, sickly, prone to self-doubt, he was an unlikely visionary. Joseph Epstein, America's most versatile essayist, proves an ideal guide to his predecessor. In wry, elegant prose, he engages Tocqueville's intellectual contributions, illuminates the development of his thought, and provides a referendum on his various prophecies. (His record was far from perfect—he thought the federal government would wither away as the states rose in power.) Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy's Guide is an altogether human portrait of the Frenchman who would become an American icon.

Review:

"Alexis de Tocqueville (1805 — 1859), whose Democracy in America is more quoted than read, is the subject of the latest installment in the excellent Eminent Lives series. Tocqueville is fortunate enough to have Epstein (Snobbery: The American Version), another man of letters lighting the way. Epstein provides a penetrating examination of the man, his works, his influence, his times and what we can learn from Democracy in America. Epstein performs sterling service in marshaling the vast amount of material available on this enigmatic 19th-century Frenchman, and gives readers a clear understanding of the immense complexities involved: Tocqueville is much more than a source of useful epigrams and half-remembered misquotes. Was he a conservative, a liberal, a Christian, an agnostic, a historian, a sociologist, a reactionary aristocrat or a radical bourgeois? The answer, Epstein concludes, was that he was all and none; each era has its own understanding of the man, refracted through the particular concerns of the time, lending Tocqueville an aura of timelessness. His exquisite literary sensibility also helps to keep him fresh for each new generation. As an introduction to the man and a primer for his works, Epstein's book is admirable. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Book News Annotation:

American essay and story writer Epstein presents a biography of French aristocrat and social critique Tocqueville (1805-59), best known for his favorable view of the US in the first volume of Democracy in America (1835). The work lacks index, bibliography, and even table of contents.
Annotation 2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Book News Annotation:

American essay and story writer Epstein presents a biography of French aristocrat and social critique Tocqueville (1805-59), best known for his favorable view of the US in the first volume of Democracy in America (1835). The work lacks index, bibliography, and even table of contents. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

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, has firmly established Tocqueville's place in American history; his chronicle of our infancy is a fixture on every American history syllabus. Nearly all of his clairvoyant predictions about American political life, from the influence of Evangelical Christianity to the advent of our consumer society, have come true-; and on the schedule he set.

Yet in his own time, Tocqueville had little evidence for the truth of his ideas. Introspective, sickly, prone to self-doubt, he was an unlikely visionary. Joseph Epstein, America's most versatile essayist, proves an ideal guide to his predecessor. In wry, elegant prose, he engages Tocqueville's intellectual contributions, illuminates the development of his thought, and provides a referendum on his various prophecies. (His record was far from perfect-; he thought the federal government would wither away as the states rose in power.) Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy's Guide is an altogether human portrait of the Frenchman who would become an American icon.

Synopsis:

A distinguished literary historian and author of the bestseller "Snobbery: The American Version" examines the legacy of the celebrated 19th century social observer, Alexis de Tocqueville.

About the Author

Joseph Epstein is the author of, among other books, Snobbery: The American Version, Fabulous Small Jews (a collection of stories), Envy, and Friendship: An Exposé. He was the editor of The American Scholar between 1974 and 1997, and for many years taught in the English Department at Northwestern University. His essays and stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Commentary, the Atlantic Monthly, and other magazines.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060598983
Subtitle:
Democracy's Guide
Author:
Epstein, Joseph
Author:
by Joseph Epstein
Publisher:
Eminent Lives
Subject:
General
Subject:
Europe - France
Subject:
Democracy
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Statesmen
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Tocqueville, Alexis de
Subject:
Biography-Historical
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Series:
Eminent Lives
Publication Date:
20061107
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
7.125 x 5 in 10.14 oz

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Related Subjects

Biography » Historical
History and Social Science » US History » De Tocqueville
History and Social Science » World History » France » General

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Product details 224 pages HarperCollins Publishers - English 9780060598983 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Alexis de Tocqueville (1805 — 1859), whose Democracy in America is more quoted than read, is the subject of the latest installment in the excellent Eminent Lives series. Tocqueville is fortunate enough to have Epstein (Snobbery: The American Version), another man of letters lighting the way. Epstein provides a penetrating examination of the man, his works, his influence, his times and what we can learn from Democracy in America. Epstein performs sterling service in marshaling the vast amount of material available on this enigmatic 19th-century Frenchman, and gives readers a clear understanding of the immense complexities involved: Tocqueville is much more than a source of useful epigrams and half-remembered misquotes. Was he a conservative, a liberal, a Christian, an agnostic, a historian, a sociologist, a reactionary aristocrat or a radical bourgeois? The answer, Epstein concludes, was that he was all and none; each era has its own understanding of the man, refracted through the particular concerns of the time, lending Tocqueville an aura of timelessness. His exquisite literary sensibility also helps to keep him fresh for each new generation. As an introduction to the man and a primer for his works, Epstein's book is admirable. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , 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, has firmly established Tocqueville's place in American history; his chronicle of our infancy is a fixture on every American history syllabus. Nearly all of his clairvoyant predictions about American political life, from the influence of Evangelical Christianity to the advent of our consumer society, have come true-; and on the schedule he set.

Yet in his own time, Tocqueville had little evidence for the truth of his ideas. Introspective, sickly, prone to self-doubt, he was an unlikely visionary. Joseph Epstein, America's most versatile essayist, proves an ideal guide to his predecessor. In wry, elegant prose, he engages Tocqueville's intellectual contributions, illuminates the development of his thought, and provides a referendum on his various prophecies. (His record was far from perfect-; he thought the federal government would wither away as the states rose in power.) Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy's Guide is an altogether human portrait of the Frenchman who would become an American icon.

"Synopsis" by , A distinguished literary historian and author of the bestseller "Snobbery: The American Version" examines the legacy of the celebrated 19th century social observer, Alexis de Tocqueville.

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