Tocqueville on American Character: Why Tocqueville's Brilliant Exploration of the Amican Spirit / Edition 1

Hardcover (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 91%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (26) from $1.99   
  • New (2) from $35.10   
  • Used (24) from $1.99   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$35.10
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(290)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
Brand New Item.

Ships from: Chatham, NJ

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$50.00
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(181)

Condition: New
Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Close
Sort by

Overview

In 1831, Alexis De Tocqueville, a twenty-six-year-old French aristocrat, spent nine months travelling across the United States. From the East Coast to the frontier, from the Canadian border to New Orleans, Tocqueville observed the American people and the revolutionary country they'd created. His celebrated Democracy in America, the most quoted work on America ever written, presented the new Americans with a degree of understanding no one had accomplished before or has since. Astonished at the pace of daily life and stimulated by people at all levels of society, Tocqueville recognized that Americans were driven by a series of internal conflicts: simultaneously religious and materialistic; individualistic and yet deeply involved in community affairs; isolationist and interventionist; pragmatic and ideological.

Noted author Michael Ledeen takes a fresh look at Tocqueville's insights into our national psyche and asks whether Americans' national character, which Tocqueville believed to be wholly admirable, has fallen into moral decay and religious indifference.

Michael Ledeen's sparkling new exploration has some surprising answers and provides a lively new look at a time when character is at the center of our national debate.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ledeen (Machiavelli on Modern Leadership), a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, turns his attention to the French aristocrat who visited America in the 1830s and produced the wildly popular and classic travelogue-cum-philosophical essay Democracy in America. Ledeen argues that Tocqueville's observations about America are just as valid and relevant today as they were 160 years ago. Principal among these observations, according to Ledeen, is that, although materialistic, Americans are also extremely religious; further, he argues that American democracy feeds American religiosity and vice versa. Ledeen cautions that in the last few decades, Americans have embraced a rigid distinction between religious and public life, one that would have been unrecognizable in Tocqueville's day. Tocqueville, he asserts, saw the dangers inherent in individualism and applauded Americans for balancing their atomizing tendencies by joining voluntary associations. Ledeen simply echoes this, failing to address the declining role of such associations in American life. This volume ultimately disappoints--there is far more summary of Tocqueville than analysis of contemporary America, and what analysis Ledeen does offer isn't compelling (such as his garbled claim that Americans' participation in voluntary associations has something to do with a love of the emotional and therapeutic). His argument is further marred by a faint jingoism ("Americans love big challenges"; "It's dangerous, even fatal, to underestimate us"). Readers would do well to skip this unconvincing survey and read Tocqueville's original text. (July) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Ledeen (Machiavelli on Modern Leadership, 1999, etc.) relates assorted selections from de Tocqueville's writings from the 1830s to current American politics. De Tocqueville was a wry and perceptive observer of the US in a tumultuous era, and his critique of Jacksonian democracy had a fresh, outsider's perspective. A French aristocrat, he was simultaneously intrigued by egalitarian ideals in action and keenly aware of the ironies and paradoxes they engendered. The seemingly boundless opportunities that America promised, he argued, could not allow every citizen to realize his goals solely through individual effort. "When men are nearly alike, and all follow the same track," he warned in Democracy in America, "it is very difficult for any one individual to walk quick and cleave a way through the same throng which surrounds and presses him." However, the subtleties of de Tocqueville's analysis get short shrift here. Instead, Ledeen links arbitrary snippets to long, vacuous rants on a range of topical issues, from the role of religion in public life (unfairly constrained by rampant atheism, he charges) to moral corruption (rampant, especially among liberals and intellectuals). In Ledeen's reading, de Tocqueville unequivocally endorsed geographic and social mobility, rugged individualism, voluntary associations, religious faith, and, above all, the Horatio Alger narrative of upward mobility. This interpretation is made possible by his stout refusal to consider the selected passages in the context of the subtle and often ironic essay in which they originally appeared, let alone take into account the particular historical settinginwhich de Tocqueville wrote. Sometimes the flimsy premise breaks down altogether: when de Tocqueville voices his pessimism or reveals paradoxes too unequivocally to ignore (stating, for example, that "freedom of opinion does not exist in America"), Ledeen simply disregards the philosopher's judgment, concluding that "de Tocqueville underestimated the stubbornly anticonformist individualism embedded in the American character." A simplistic polemic that reduces de Tocqueville to jingoistic sloganeering.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312252311
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 7/14/2000
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 8.64 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael A. Ledeen, a noted political analyst, is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the author of Machiavelli on Modern Leadership and is a contributor to The Wall Street Journal. He lives and works in Washington D.C.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction: Restless People Inspired by Ideas, Forever Headed for New Frontiers 1
1 Dynamic People Driven by Internal Conflicts 27
2 Religious Faith Anchored by Secular Institutions 68
3 Rugged Individualists with a Genius for Cooperation 103
4 Isolationists Called to International Leadership 135
5 Apostles of Freedom Tempted by Luxurious Tyranny 164
Conclusion: More Tocquevillian Than Ever Before 201
Acknowledgments 211
Notes 213
Index 221
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2001

    Sloppy Implementation of a Brilliant Book Concept

    Many people in America have not read Alexis de Tocqueville's brilliant analysis of the American character, as he experienced on his trip to the United States in 1826. That's too bad, because his work brilliantly defines what is different about American society from any other one on Earth. As an aristocratic Frenchman, perhaps it was easier for him to see us as we are, by seeing how different we are from Europeans, Canadians, and Mexicans. The concept of the book is to summarize de Tocqueville, and then to test his observations against what has happened since. I have not seen that done before, and looked forward to seeing the results. When Michael Ledeen is describing de Tocqueville, or political thinking of that time, the book is superb. If the book had stopped there, it would have been a five star book. So if you want to read it for that background, you will be well rewarded. Alternatively, you can read de Tocqueville directly. I would prefer the original, but either would serve. In his contemporary commentary on America, Mr. Ledeen is basically giving us a political sociology analysis. For such work, it is helpful to have facts that look from various perspectives and dimensions. The first problem with this book is that Mr. Ledeen prefers to give just one anecdote or one fact, and build his observations from that. That approach works well for stimulating debate, but falls short of being convincing about our unique character. I found this approach very suspect. Second, Mr. Ledeen prefers to always come at the problem from the perspective of being paranoid about losing our ideal character. I think his point of view is a valid one, but there are others. For example, one can also talk optimistically about how we routinely avoid certain traps (like having the best people decide to become politicians, or failing to use private institutions to serve important social needs). Those other perspectives are missing. The result is a book that seems like an anti-Democrat (as in the political party) rant in many places. The third problem is that the book seems to have been weakly researched. Facts and details seem just a little out of focus, as though drawn from long-remembered impressions, rather than real knowledge or research. For example, I rarely see Jack Welch's (the famous CEO of General Electric) name misspelled in any publication or book. But in this book, he was 'Welsh' all the way through. Now, I believe Mr. Welch is an Irishman by background, so I don't think it's an accurate description of his familial history, either. Then, the book goes on to describe his Mr. Welch's pronouncements of 1980 as creative destruction. The ideas that Mr. Welch advocated in that year were well established and broadly in application throughout American business when he pursued them. He primarily was advocating that the company stay in businesses in which it could be the leader or have the second place in market share. He solved the company's deficiencies by simply selling the lower market share operations, not by destroying them. For example, Utah International (a mining operation) was sold within months of his taking the helm. It was only later that Mr. Welch began to downsize the remaining General Electric operations to get rid of excess layers of bureaucatic fat. The ideas Mr. Welch advocated later in his career were actually more important to General Electric's success, such as freeing General Electric Capital to be very entrepreneurial, focusing on leadership training, and implementing Six Sigma. So at best, Mr. Welch is misdescribed due to misfocus in Mr. Ledeen's example. At worst, Mr. Ledeen simply doesn't seem to grasp the example. There are several other sections of the book that display these kinds of fundamental flaws about contemporary observations. As a result, I have to grade the analysis of current society somewhere in the two to three star range, creating an average of three and a half or four stars

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)