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Democracy in America: The Complete and Unabridged Volumes I and II [Mass Market Paperback]

Alexis De Tocqueville , Joseph Epstein
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 4 2000 Bantam Classic
From America's call for a free press to its embrace of the capitalist system, Democracy in America--first published in 1835--enlightens, entertains, and endures as a brilliant study of our national government and character. Philosopher John Stuart Mill called it "among the most remarkable productions of our time." Woodrow Wilson wrote that de Tocqueville's ability to illuminate the actual workings of American democracy was "possibly without rival."

For today's readers, de Tocqueville's concern about the effect of majority rule on the rights of individuals remains deeply meaningful. His shrewd observations about the "almost royal prerogatives" of the president and the need for virtue in elected officials are particularly prophetic. His profound insights into the great rewards and responsibilities of democratic government are words every American needs to read, contemplate, and remember.

From America's call for a free press to its embrace of the capitalist system Democracy in America enlightens, entertains, and endures as a brilliant study of our national government and character. De Toqueville's concern about the effect of majority rule on the rights of individuals remains deeply meaningful. His insights into the great rewards and responsibilities of democratic government are words every American needs to read, contemplate, and remember.

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Review

"No better study of a nation's institutions and culture than Tocqueville's Democracy in America has ever been written by a foreign observer; none perhaps as good."
--The New York Times

Praise for the work of Joseph Epstein:

"Epstein is one of the premier contemporary American essayists...What is so remarkable about Epstein as an essay writer is that he'll begin a discussion at some personal place...and end up in another place relevant to us all. He enjoys making language work, not making it jump through hoops for show." --Booklist

"Joseph Epstein is an essayist in the brilliant tradition of Charles Lamb. He moves so effortlessly from the amusingly personal to the broadly philosophical that it takes a moment before you realize how far out into the intellectual cosmos you've been taken."
--Tom Wolfe

"Joseph Epstein's essays no more need his identifying byline than Van Gogh's paintings need his signature. Epstein's style--call it learned whimsy--is unmistakable; for Epstein addicts, indispensable."
--George Will

"Joseph Epstein is the liveliest, most erudite and engaging essayist we have." --James Atlas

"If Epstein's ultimate ancestor is Montaigne, his more immediate master is Mencken. Like Mencken, he has fashioned a style that successfully combines elegance and even bookishness with street-smart colloquial directness. And there is nothing remote or aloof about him."
--John Gross, Chicago Tribune

From the Back Cover

"No better study of a nation's institutions and culture than Tocqueville's Democracy in America has ever been written by a foreign observer; none perhaps as good."
--The New York Times

Praise for the work of Joseph Epstein:

"Epstein is one of the premier contemporary American essayists...What is so remarkable about Epstein as an essay writer is that he'll begin a discussion at some personal place...and end up in another place relevant to us all. He enjoys making language work, not making it jump through hoops for show." --Booklist

"Joseph Epstein is an essayist in the brilliant tradition of Charles Lamb. He moves so effortlessly from the amusingly personal to the broadly philosophical that it takes a moment before you realize how far out into the intellectual cosmos you've been taken."
--Tom Wolfe

"Joseph Epstein's essays no more need his identifying byline than Van Gogh's paintings need his signature. Epstein's style--call it learned whimsy--is unmistakable; for Epstein addicts, indispensable."
--George Will

"Joseph Epstein is the liveliest, most erudite and engaging essayist we have." --James Atlas

"If Epstein's ultimate ancestor is Montaigne, his more immediate master is Mencken. Like Mencken, he has fashioned a style that successfully combines elegance and even bookishness with street-smart colloquial directness. And there is nothing remote or aloof about him."
--John Gross, Chicago Tribune

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First Sentence
ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE arrived in the United States in May, 1831, and departed its shores for his native France once again in February, 1832, only nine months later. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Democracy in America Sept. 14 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an extremely important book on the history of democracy anywhere. However, if I may be allowed one comment on this classic on democracy; How can one speak of democracy in America in 1835 when this book was published AND NEVER SET FOOT IN THE CRADLE OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY, Virginia? It is not my intention to insult this great work of literature, nor that great nation it is written about. However, of the founding fathers of America, four (4) of your first five (5) Presidents were chosen from Virginia. Even your great second President, John Adams, knew that democracy in America was doomed without Virginia and he knew it was even more doomed to failure without two of Virginia's greatest, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. This is truly a great classic and we can all learn about democracy, but one cannot claim to be an authority on democracy in America in 1835 without knowning the Southern states of America and the vital role their people played in the creation of democracy in America. Having said that, this is a very important classic on democracy, both its virtues and its vices. I urge everyone to read it and fully understand what is happening to democracy worldwide today.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Exploring Democracy Sept. 9 2012
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book I had kept getting referred to as I read other books on the beginning years of democracy, not back in Athens but when it had its resurgence in Europe as it was beginning to replace monarchies. First I found a copy through the local library that had to bring it in and when I started to read it, I had to get a copy to keep and found it on Amazon. It is deep de Tocqueville spent nine months in America studying the system in 1831 then went back and wrote his book. He was a magistrate and completely assessed the whole system including the political affects of the sdministration and the legal system, comparing it with what was presently there in France and England. From an historical point of view I would suggest that the French eventually took his book into consideration when finessing their own administration. The book is deep and sometimes hard to follow but worthwhile.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars America defined, and over 165 years ago Sept. 27 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
So many aspects of the deepest and most shallow in America are laid bare by a Frenchman who came to The States in 1835 to find for himself whether individuality, freedom and liberty could survive the dangers of equality and democracy. "[The nation] depends on [its people to determine] whether the principle of equality is to lead them to servitude or knowledge, to freedom or barbarism..." writes de Tocqueville. Perhaps, contrary to modern thought, only an outsider can so accurately assess a people. But de Tocqueville is eminently balanced, overall in favor (in my opinion) of what he saw, and thus dismissed in France upon his return.
He notes an American addiction to the practical rather than theoretical, a pragmatic concern, not for the lofty and perfect, but the quick and useful, with relentless ambition, feverish activity and unending quests for devices and shortcuts. Resulting from a requirement for survival on the frontier, these observations are the good, bad and ugly of our modern selves; Resourceful technocrats expanding comfort, health, safety or wealth by anyone with ingenuity and persistence; Our exchange of youth for old age in the workplace, improving our standard of living at the expense of our quality of life; America's shallow nature of thought, sealed up in sound-bites.
De Tocqueville finds in the sacred name of majority, a tyranny over the mind of Americans as oppressive and formidable as any other tyranny - arguably more so by virtue of its acceptance. Where monarchs failed to control thought, democracy succeeds. Opinion polls our politicians subscribe to have a power of conformity. "I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America," he writes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Why America is so a successfull country. Nov. 6 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Democracy in America" , in the abridged version of the quite voluminous full work which totals something like 2.000 pages of texts, is worthy all the money the reader spent in search of a good content and which fully conveys the inteligent writting style and the penetrating innovative ideas of one of the most brilliant thinkers of all times, the superbly bright French nobleman , Alexis de Tocqueville, a household name in America's schools. I would be at a loss if I had to name the area of knowledge where the author impresses me most: as an historian?, as a sociologist? as an economist? as an anthropologist or a philosopher? In all of these fields of knowledge his approach is innovative, his style vivid, and his ideas spring from the seemingly endless source of his mental apparatus, certainly one of the best of his time. Getting in first contact with such a cornucopia of new ideas and thoughts is very estimulating, specially if one has in mind that Alexis' work is not a panegeric of his condition of nobleman(after the French Revolution). Quite to the contrary, his open mindedness is revealed in the futurity he ascertains to the United States as the new economic and social power of the world, leaving behind all the decadent fashion and way of style of ancient nobility, English or French. All this in the 1830's!!! He analyses the formative concepts of the social and economic life in the States and many of the concepts and aspects of day-to-day life of Americans are to be found even nowadays, there cemented in the social and economic life of that country. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best novels of the 19th century
This is one of the best novels of the 19th century. Most people do not recognize the significance of this book, however its relevance to modern literature cannot be emphasized... Read more
Published on Feb. 27 2004 by H. Q. Latimer Dodds
5.0 out of 5 stars timeless reference
While American democracy has changed significantly over the past couple centuries since de Toqueville wrote this, his chapters on citizenship and governance are still a must-read... Read more
Published on Nov. 2 2003 by R. Portier
5.0 out of 5 stars The changes in democracy
well this book to me seem to talk about how are system flows and the times have completly changed over the pass years. Read more
Published on July 16 2003 by Roger Turner
4.0 out of 5 stars DECENT ASSESSMENT
THIS BOOK IS A PERSPECTIVE FROM THE OUTSIDE, IN OF THE AMERICAN SYSTEM OF DEMOCRACY. GIVEN BY A MAN WHO HAS SEEN REVOLUTIONS LEAD TO TERROR AND MAYHEM. Read more
Published on June 8 2003 by Jared M. Thomasson
5.0 out of 5 stars Astute Observer of America
De Tocqueville was simply of one of the great social scientists writing about America and Democracy. Read more
Published on May 27 2003 by Michael A Neulander
5.0 out of 5 stars Not really a review
I am also a Tocqueville fan. Anyone interested in the modern mind also should read the latter portions of Belloc's "The Great Heresies" and "Survivals and New Arrivals. Read more
Published on Sept. 11 2002 by John Nygate
5.0 out of 5 stars Democracy in America
Democracy in America by Alexis De Tocqueville is by far an in depth view of America as seen by the traveling Frenchman. Read more
Published on July 4 2002 by Joe Zika
5.0 out of 5 stars Americans used to be happy with their government.
That, above all, is what stood out to me the most.
For the vast majority of our nation's history, most decisions that affected people's daily lives were made locally. Read more
Published on June 13 2002 by Phillip Trent
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the best study of American Democracy!
One would have thought that 200 years after De Tocqueville's Democracy in America there would have been a better study. However, this title in question, i.e. Read more
Published on Feb. 6 2002
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