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The Cambridge Companion to <I>Democracy in America</I>
  • Edited by Richard Boyd, Georgetown University, Washington DC
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Book description

This collection of essays is an invaluable companion for understanding the composition, reception, and contemporary legacy of Alexis de Tocqueville's classic work Democracy in America. Chapters by political theorists, intellectual historians, economists, political scientists, and community organizers explore the major intellectual influences on Tocqueville's thought, the book's reception in its own day and by subsequent political thinkers, and its enduring relevance for some of today's most pressing issues. Chapters tackle Tocqueville's insights into liberal democracy, civil society and civic engagement, social reform, religion and politics, free markets, constitutional interpretation, the history of slavery and race relations, gender, literature, and foreign policy. The many ways in which Tocqueville's ideas have been taken up – sometimes at cross-purposes – by subsequent thinkers and political actors around the world are also examined. This volume demonstrates the enduring global significance of one of the most perceptive accounts ever written about American democracy and the future prospects for self-government.

Reviews

'Classic texts fuse style, substance, and significance in a mysterious alchemy. This Companion to Democracy in America reveals how Tocqueville’s classic both emerges from and transcends its time: how it continues to inspire opposed ideologies, how it passes into different cultures, and how it still illuminates contemporary concerns with inequality, race, gender, religion, and identity. Superbly edited by Richard Boyd, it is an essential guide to Tocqueville in the 21st century.'

Cheryl B. Welch - Harvard University

'This collection of essays on Democracy in America brings together scholars from many different disciplines in a wide-ranging discussion of one of the most important and well-known works of modern political thought. Both readers familiar with the work and those new to it will find much material for reflection here. The Companion will be an indispensable resource for all those interested in Tocqueville, in democracy, and in American culture.'

Alan Kahan - Université de Paris-Saclay

'Is there anything new to be said about Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America? This volume of finely crafted chapters shows that there quite definitely is. Broad in scope and in historical range, each essay reveals something new about the man and his famous book, be it about Tocqueville’s sources and intellectual influences, the book’s reception then and now, its truly global and lasting footprint, its literary qualities, as well as the important questions of our day about which -if Tocqueville has not always been proved right – he still has the capacity to make us think, not least in what looks like an increasingly post-Tocquevillian America.'

Jeremy Jennings - Kings College London

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