Tocqueville: The Aristocratic Sources of Liberty

Lucien Jaume, trans. from the French by Arthur Goldhammer. Princeton Univ., $35 (368p) ISBN 978-0-691-15204-2
This astute study of Alexis de Tocqueville and his landmark political study, Democracy in America (published in two volumes, in 1835 and 1840, respectively), offers insights into the Frenchman’s life and times and how they shaped his perspective on the newborn American republic. As Jaume writes, America was not the subject but “the pretext for studying modern society and the woes of France,” as encoded in Tocqueville’s book. The four major sections of Jaume’s study analyze the text from the perspective of Tocqueville as political scientist, Tocqueville as sociologist, Tocqueville as moralist, and Tocqueville as literateur who was writing in the same Romantic era as Victor Hugo, Chateaubriand, and Lamartine. Jaume shows the challenges Tocqueville faced in explaining American concepts like popular sovereignty to his countrymen. In particular, Jaume does a fine job of interpreting Tocqueville’s concept of the authority exercised by the public at large in a democratic America as (in Tocqueville’s words) “a sort of religion, with the majority as its prophet.” His volume provides a thorough understanding of Tocqueville’s timeless work as a product of its time. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/11/2013
Release date: 03/01/2013
Show other formats
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-05134-8
Open Ebook - 360 pages - 978-1-4008-4672-6
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.