The Chicago Companion to Tocqueville's Democracy in America
One of the greatest books ever to be written on the United States, Democracy in America continues to find new readers who marvel at the lasting insights Alexis de Tocqueville had into our nation and its political culture. The work is, however, as challenging as it is important; its arguments can be complex and subtle, and its sheer length can make it difficult for any reader, especially one coming to it for the first time, to grasp Tocqueville’s meaning. The Chicago Companion to Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” is the first book written expressly to help general readers and students alike get the most out of this seminal work.
Now James T. Schleifer, an expert on Tocqueville, has provided the background and information readers need in order to understand Tocqueville’s masterwork. In clear and engaging prose, Schleifer explains why Democracy in America is so important, how it came to be written, and how different generations of Americans have interpreted it since its publication. He also presents indispensable insight on who Tocqueville was, his trip to America, and what he meant by equality, democracy, and liberty.
Drawing upon his intimate knowledge of Tocqueville’s papers and manuscripts, Schleifer reveals how Tocqueville’s ideas took shape and changed even in the course of writing the book. At the same time, Schleifer provides a detailed glossary of key terms and key passages, all accompanied by generous citations to the relevant pages in the University of Chicago Press Mansfield/Winthrop translation. The Chicago Companion will serve generations of readers as an essential guide to both the man and his work.
Why Read Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America?
What Are the Purposes and Uses of the Companion?
What Are the Contexts of Tocqueville’s Democracy?
1 Who Was Tocqueville?
What Are Some Essentials of His Life and Background?
How Was He Able to Write Such a Brilliant Book?
What Kind of Man Was Tocqueville?
2 How Was Democracy in America Written?
Tocqueville’s Journey to America
Why Did Tocqueville Visit the United States in 1831? And What Did He Do There?
How Did Tocqueville and Beaumont Work?
What Is the Importance of Tocqueville’s Travel Diaries and Letters Home?
What Were the Weaknesses of Tocqueville’s Journey?
Tocqueville’s Intellectual Encounter with America
Tocqueville’s Second Voyage to America
How Did Democracy in America Take Shape?
Tocqueville’s Working Papers
Help from Others
What Were the Sources of Tocqueville’s Book?
The Style and Structure of Tocqueville’s Democracy
Tocqueville’s Ways of Writing: How Does He Address His Readers?
How Is Democracy in America Organized?
The Shape of the 1835 Democracy
The Shape of the 1840 Democracy
What Are Some of the Major Themes of Tocqueville’s Democracy?
3 What Are Some of Tocqueville’s Basic Convictions?
4 What Does Tocqueville Mean by Equality, Democracy, and Liberty?
How Are Equality, Democracy and Liberty Related?
5 How Does Democracy Threaten Liberty?
Where Would Power Accumulate?
6 How to Preserve Liberty?
Self-Interest Well Understood
What Is Tocqueville’s Essential Message?
7 What Are Some of Tocqueville’s Other Major Themes?
Economics and the Role of Government
A Partisan of Democracy?
Democracy and Religion
Democracy and Intellectual Creativity
Democracy and Morality
Democracy and Revolution
Democracy and War
The Democratic Character
Tocqueville’s Major Themes Reconsidered
8 What Else Does Tocqueville Have to Say about America?
What Is Specific to America?
The American Setting
The Federal Constitution
The Future of the Three Races
Other Functions of America
Tocqueville and the American Example
American Readings of Tocqueville’s Democracy
9 How Has Tocqueville’s Democracy Been Read in America?
Tools for Use
Glossary: What Are Some of the Key Terms in Tocqueville’s Democracy?
Guide to Key Chapters and Passages: Which Parts of Tocqueville’s Democracy Are the Most Famous and Essential?
Suggestions for Further Reading