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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best translation yet, 9 Jan 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Democracy in America: And Two Essays on America (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
How amazing that this book is so up-to-date about America, its attitude to religion, foreign affairs, women, education, race relations, the presidency and government! Gerald Bevan's new translation covers the famous text together with the accounts of Tocqueville's two excursions in America. This translation reflects the fluency of the original French and is, in my opinion, by far the best version to chose for this century.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest book ever written about America, 9 April 2007
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Mr. Peter Coville "peter" (Reading, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Democracy in America: And Two Essays on America (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
This is a truly outstanding work, which was written in the 1830s but still has much to teach us about democracy and about America. If those two subjects were better understood today the world would be a far pleasanter place to live! In the course of his enquiry Tocqueville examines history, legal and political systems, the economy, the arts, relationships between the races and much more, in what amounts to a general reflection on human institutions under democracy. Everyone should read this book, not only Americans or those interested in America, as the need for urgent reflection on the democratic project goes much wider. And in fact, one could say that the work itself is democratic in the sense that it is jargon-free and a pleasure to read, and thus accessible to (nearly) all. Of course, no one thinker sees everything, but this is a major contribution to understanding human societies, on the way to improving them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most worthwhile treatise on american democracy ever, 3 May 2005
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Mr. J Reeks "reeksy40" (Chepstow, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Democracy in America: And Two Essays on America (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Tocqueville is a genius. This has everything you would want to know in it, although it is surprising sparce as regards his own first hand experiences. You must start with this book if you are learning about America, France or democracy generally. It is fascinating to see how Tocqueville evolved his argument between this book and his "Ancien Regime and the French Revolution". A masterpiece, practically history in itself.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic text, enchantingly unravelled, 5 Dec 2003
By 
Daniel Simmons (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Democracy in America: And Two Essays on America (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
Gerald Bevan's translation of this classic text, offers the grandeur of de Tocqueville such elegant simplicity that it restores vitality to an already vital text.
Enough has been said in the other reviews listed here, to convince any reader of the merits of adding this book to their bedside table, with this edition finally they have the companion to illuminate the wisdom of the work with a the skill of a master craftsmen.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Democracy anywhere, 5 Sep 2013
By 
E Reilly (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Democracy in America: And Two Essays on America (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
A masterpiece of epic proportions. It is vast, visionary, ambitious, engaging, diplomatic, sympathetic, sensitive, diligent, reasoned, honest, organised, clear, coherent, eloquent, fluent, and a complete success. Five stars does not come close. Democracy in America is one of the few towering human literary achievements.

The introduction is an added bonus, and is worthy of such an epic classic, by putting it into the context of its day and explaining its enormous impact on the ideology and vision of itself of the United States of America. It is useful to know that in its day, Vol I was much more esteemed than Vol II, and that Vol II was a more negative afterthought. Vol I was illuminating as a sort of professional's guide to American institutions at the time, and Vol II is staggeringly relevant nearly 200 years later.

Any reader of Democracy in America is rewarded in Vol II with so many incredible insights which almost seem to defy human knowledge today. If every opinion leader, social commentator, social science academic and politician were to have read it, surely a lot of the content of today's debates would not be bothered with. It highlights the grave limitations of contemporary society, but also excuses them by explaining them. There is clear scope and potential today, which is a message of hope, but for de Tocqueville it depends on education and self-education.

Vol I is more technical and describes constitutional aspects of the United States which make it singular, such as the relative and genuine equality between all (white) peoples which preceded the creation of local government, and the political role of the Supreme Court. The detail and depth here is also remarkable, but Vol I is largely for the enthusiast. However, there is a long and uncomfortable final chapter on race relations, and in the conclusion de Tocqueville predicts the future in terms of contrast between the USA and Russia, eerily giving the plough-share to the USA and military might to Russia.

It is impossible not to read Democracy in America without feeling it to be a huge privilege and without completely admiring de Tocqueville, who was in his twenties when he visited the USA and compiled his notes. Today we are less sure about American democracy than de Tocqueville, but it might only hold out if we realise now what de Tocqueville did then.
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Democracy in America: And Two Essays on America (Penguin Classics)
Democracy in America: And Two Essays on America (Penguin Classics) by Alexis Tocqueville (Paperback - 24 April 2003)
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