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
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