Tocqueville: Democracy in America

22 Mar, 2018 320 Political science

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) and his examination of the American democratic system. He wrote De La Democratie en Amerique in two parts, published in 1835 and 1840, when France was ruled by the July Monarchy of Louis-Philippe. Tocqueville was interested in how aspects of American democracy, in the age of President Andrew Jackson, could be applied to Europe as it moved away from rule by monarchs and aristocrats. His work has been revisited by politicians ever since, particularly in America, with its analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of direct democracy and its warnings of mediocrity and the tyranny of the majority.

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  • Robert Gildea 5 episodes
    Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford
  • Susan-Mary Grant 3 episodes
    Professor of American History at Newcastle University
  • Jeremy Jennings No other episodes
    Professor of Political Theory and Head of the School of Politics & Economics at King's College London

Reading list

  • On the Penitentiary System in the United States and its Application to France: The Complete Text
    Gustave de Beaumont and Alexis de Tocqueville (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018) Google Books →
  • Alexis de Tocqueville: A Life
    Hugh Brogan (Yale University Press, 2008) Google Books →
  • Alexis de Tocqueville: Prophet of Democracy in the Age of Revolution
    Hugh Brogan (Profile Books, 2006) Google Books →
  • Tocqueville on America after 1840
    A. Craiutu & J.Jennings (eds) (Cambridge University Press, 2009)
  • Tocqueville's Discovery of America
    Leo Damrosch (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010) Google Books →
  • Tocqueville: A Biography
    Andre Jardin (Halban, 1988) Google Books →
  • Tocqueville: The Aristocratic Sources of Liberty
    Lucien Jaume (Princeton University Press, 2013) Google Books →
  • Alexis de Tocqueville
    Alan S. Kahan (Bloomsbury, 2013) Google Books →
  • Tocqueville: A Very Short Introduction
    Harvey C. Mansfield (Oxford University Press, 2010) Google Books →
  • Tocqueville in America
    George Wilson Pierson (Johns Hopkins, 1996) Google Books →
  • The Chicago Companion to Tocqueville's Democracy in America
    James T. Schleifer (Chicago University Press, 2012) Google Books →
  • The Making of Tocqueville's Democracy in America
    James T. Schleifer (Chapel Hill, 1980) Google Books →
  • Tocqueville
    Larry Siedentop (Oxford University Press, 1994) Google Books →
  • Democracy in America
    Alexis de Tocqueville (Penguin Books, 2003) Google Books →

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, in 1831 Alexis de Tocqueville sailed from France to America to learn how its democracy worked and therefore what his own country might expect when inevitably, as he saw it, democracy spread there.