In 19th-century Europe, two political commentators stood head and shoulders above all the others for their historical acumen, their sensitivity to impending changes and revolutions, the coherence of their philosophy, their sense of destiny and their far-sightedness. Both were equally famous - revered and scorned in equal measure. But one - Karl ...Read MoreIn 19th-century Europe, two political commentators stood head and shoulders above all the others for their historical acumen, their sensitivity to impending changes and revolutions, the coherence of their philosophy, their sense of destiny and their far-sightedness. Both were equally famous - revered and scorned in equal measure. But one - Karl Marx - went on to dominate and crucify the 20th century, while de Tocqueville sank into the backwaters. This book by de Tocqueville is a classic of political analysis and a convincing critique of American politics and society.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 2004-02-09 It's hard to think of a work that has so influenced our understanding of the United States as this-still the most authoritative, reflective set of observations about American institutions and the American character ever written. That its author was a Frenchman, and an aristocrat at that, and that he was balanced and penetrating has often occasioned rueful surprise. However, de Tocqueville's distance from his subject is precisely what lends his observations such continuing currency. A few decades ago, for instance, we read Tocqueville for his prediction that Russia and the United States would one day contest for pre-eminence. Now, we ought to read him (Iraqis and Afghans should, too) for his classic analyses of the link between political parties and free associations and for his reflections on such matters as religion and public life, and "self-interest properly understood." But many solid translations exist. Why another? Because the Library of America would be incomplete without this canonical work of history and sociology. And this translation by Goldhammer, the dean of American translators from the French, accomplishes what it's hard to believe possible: it lends to this unalterably grave work some zest. Never slipping into slang, it gives a colloquial cast, fitting for our time, to a work normally rendered only with high solemnity. The Library of America claims that its editions will stay in print forever. This one's likely to stand that test. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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