Synopses & Reviews
Democracy in America is arguably the most perceptive and influential book ever written about American politics and society. The Library of America now presents Arthur Goldhammer's acclaimed translation in a two-volume Paperback Classics edition. Winner of the 2004 Translation Prize awarded by the French-American Foundation, Goldhammer's elegant rendering is the first to capture fully the precision and grace of Tocqueville's style and the full force of his profound ideas and observations. Volume One (1835) and Volume Two (1840) are published separately, each with its own introductory essay by historian Olivier Zunz (Why the American Century?) exploring the creation and evolution of Tocqueville's masterpiece.
About the Author
Alexis de Tocqueville was born in 1805 to a noble French family that had survived the French Revolution. His father gained some political power under the reign of the Bourbons, and after the July Revolution of 1830, the family was exiled along with the king. Tocqueville, then twenty-five years old, stayed in France, swearing allegiance to the new government. Shortly thereafter he and a friend, Gustave de Beaumont, sought and received a government assignment to study the prison system of the United States. They arrived in America in 1831. After extensive travels across the young nation, Tocqueville wrote Democracy in America (published in two volumes in 1835 and 1840). The publication of the first volume made Tocqueville a well-known figure, but he led a quiet life, accepting modest governmental posts, traveling around Europe, and marrying an Englishwoman. In 1848, Tocqueville once again rose to political prominence after a prescient speech that foretold of revolution. After serving through the massive upheavals and overthrows of government, Tocqueville retired from political life in 1849. Always weak in health, his lung disease grew progressively worse from that period on. Moving south several times on doctor’s recommendations, Tocqueville succumbed to death in 1859, in Cannes.