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Alexis de Tocqueville: A Life

by

Alexis de Tocqueville: A Life Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Alexis de Tocqueville was one of the greatest political writers of all time. Born a French aristocrat, he saw the decimation of his family during the Reign of Terror. He spent most of his adult life struggling for liberty under the unsuccessful regimes of nineteenth-century France.

In 1831, Tocqueville made his famous voyage to America, and his two-volume record of his journey, Democracy in America, remains one of the most vital texts in the history of democratic thought. Deeply affected by his own experience of France's disastrous revolutions, Tocqueville grappled incisively with the question of how America's nascent democracy might thrive. His observations on American character and culture remain startlingly fresh nearly two centuries later.

A magisterial book by an eminent scholar of both European and American history, this will stand as the standard biography of Alexis de Tocqueville for years to come.

Review:

"This magisterial biography, selected by the Economist on its U.K. publication as one of the best 100 books of 2006, serves up all the interesting personal details (constant health struggles, an unsuitable marriage to a woman of lesser means) in the life of Tocqueville (1805 – 1859), the man who most influenced America and its self-perception. But the heart of the book is Tocqueville's travels in the United States and the writing of Democracy in America. Tocqueville both appreciated, and was discomfited by, American egalitarianism. Raised in a Catholic environment, the French aristocrat 'could not see the logic' of Protestantism. (His visit to a Shaker settlement was especially unnerving.) British historian Brogan is not uncritical: he notes that Tocqueville never understood that democracy relies 'principally on elections to control majorities,' rather than on a system of legislative and judicial checks and balances. Brogan's greatest contribution may be his reading of the second volume of Democracy in America as autobiography, arguing that Tocqueville wrote it in part to justify his own break with the expectations of his elite family and social circle. All in all, this is an engrossing and erudite account. 16 b&w illus." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Alexis de Tocqueville is a towering figure in 19th-century political thought, on a par with Karl Marx and John Stuart Mill and more prophetic than either of them. It is therefore a bit confounding to realize that, despite all the books and essays about Tocqueville's masterpiece, 'Democracy in America,' there was no full-scale biography in English of the man himself.

Now there is. Hugh... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"Brogan vividly captures the brilliance and complexity of Alexis de Tocqueville: prophet of modern democracy bound to the old regime by family and feeling; lover of liberty and the rule of law who felt the lure of empire; bold and restless spirit who recoiled from revolution. This is a vibrant and compelling biography." Alan Houston, University of California San Diego

Synopsis:

Alexis de Tocqueville was one of the greatest political thinkers of all time. Born a French aristocrat, he lost nearly his entire family in the Reign of Terror, and he spent most of his adult life struggling for liberty under the unsuccessful regimes of nineteenth-century France.

At age twenty-five he travelled to America and encountered democracy for the first time. This firsthand experience contributed to his incisive writing on liberty and democracy. The ancien régime launched the scholarly study of the French Revolution, and Democracy in America remains the best book ever written by a European about the United States. This is a brilliant account of his life.

About the Author

Hugh Brogan has worked for the Economist in the United States. He has held a chair in American history at the University of Essex and now has a research professorship there. His books include The Penguin History of the United States and biographies of J. F. Kennedy and Arthur Ransome.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780300108033
Subtitle:
A Life
Author:
Brogan, Hugh
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Political
Subject:
Historians
Subject:
Statesmen
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Philosophers
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20080401
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16 b/w illus.
Pages:
736
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in 2.25 lb

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » US History » De Tocqueville

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Product details 736 pages Yale University Press - English 9780300108033 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "This magisterial biography, selected by the Economist on its U.K. publication as one of the best 100 books of 2006, serves up all the interesting personal details (constant health struggles, an unsuitable marriage to a woman of lesser means) in the life of Tocqueville (1805 – 1859), the man who most influenced America and its self-perception. But the heart of the book is Tocqueville's travels in the United States and the writing of Democracy in America. Tocqueville both appreciated, and was discomfited by, American egalitarianism. Raised in a Catholic environment, the French aristocrat 'could not see the logic' of Protestantism. (His visit to a Shaker settlement was especially unnerving.) British historian Brogan is not uncritical: he notes that Tocqueville never understood that democracy relies 'principally on elections to control majorities,' rather than on a system of legislative and judicial checks and balances. Brogan's greatest contribution may be his reading of the second volume of Democracy in America as autobiography, arguing that Tocqueville wrote it in part to justify his own break with the expectations of his elite family and social circle. All in all, this is an engrossing and erudite account. 16 b&w illus." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Brogan vividly captures the brilliance and complexity of Alexis de Tocqueville: prophet of modern democracy bound to the old regime by family and feeling; lover of liberty and the rule of law who felt the lure of empire; bold and restless spirit who recoiled from revolution. This is a vibrant and compelling biography."
"Synopsis" by , Alexis de Tocqueville was one of the greatest political thinkers of all time. Born a French aristocrat, he lost nearly his entire family in the Reign of Terror, and he spent most of his adult life struggling for liberty under the unsuccessful regimes of nineteenth-century France.

At age twenty-five he travelled to America and encountered democracy for the first time. This firsthand experience contributed to his incisive writing on liberty and democracy. The ancien régime launched the scholarly study of the French Revolution, and Democracy in America remains the best book ever written by a European about the United States. This is a brilliant account of his life.

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