American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville

American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville

by Bernard-Henri Lévy, Charlotte Mandell
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American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville by Bernard-Henri Lévy

What does it mean to be an American, and what can America be today? To answer these questions, celebrated philosopher and journalist Bernard-Henri Lévy spent a year traveling throughout the country in the footsteps of another great Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, whose Democracy in America remains the most influential book ever written about our country.
The result is American Vertigo, a fascinating, wholly fresh look at a country we sometimes only think we know. From Rikers Island to Chicago mega-churches, from Muslim communities in Detroit to an Amish enclave in Iowa, Lévy investigates issues at the heart of our democracy: the special nature of American patriotism, the coexistence of freedom and religion (including the religion of baseball), the prison system, the “return of ideology” and the health of our political institutions, and much more. He revisits and updates Tocqueville’s most important beliefs, such as the dangers posed by “the tyranny of the majority,” explores what Europe and America have to learn from each other, and interprets what he sees with a novelist’s eye and a philosopher’s depth.
Through powerful interview-based portraits across the spectrum of the American people, from prison guards to clergymen, from Norman Mailer to Barack Obama, from Sharon Stone to Richard Holbrooke, Lévy fills his book with a tapestry of American voices–some wise, some shocking. Both the grandeur and the hellish dimensions of American life are unflinchingly explored. And big themes emerge throughout, from the crucial choices America
faces today to the underlying reality that, unlike the “Old World,” America remains the fulfillment of the world’s desire to worship, earn, and live as one wishes–a place, despite all, where inclusion remains not just an ideal but an actual practice.
At a time when Americans are anxious about how the world perceives them and, indeed, keen to make sense of themselves, a brilliant and sympathetic foreign observer has arrived to help us begin a new conversation about the meaning of America.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307430625
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/18/2007
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 899,955
File size: 491 KB

About the Author

Bernard-Henry Lévy is a philosopher, journalist, activist, and filmmaker. He was hailed by Vanity Fair magazine as “Superman and prophet: we have no equivalent in the United States.” Among his dozens of books are Barbarism with a Human Face and Who Killed Daniel Pearl? His writing has appeared in a wide range of publications throughout Europe and the United States. His films include the documentaries Bosna! and A Day in the Death of Sarajevo. Lévy is co-founder of the antiracist group SOS Racism and has served on diplomatic missions for the French government.

From the Hardcover edition.

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American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Despite Garrison Keillor's hatchet job on this book in the New York Times, I bought this book based on watching the author interviewed on Jon Stewart. I was intrigued by his brilliant conversation and mind. Bernard Henry-Levy is a noted French author and philosopher, an atheist and a Jew. He brings to his visit to America an outsider's view, finding things to criticize, but also embracing the positive aspects of what makes America a great country. I learned some things I didn't know, met some interesting people and went on a thought-provoking ride. That's what a great book should do- make you think and consider.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is really a bit much to dare compare to De Tocqueville. we shall see if the writings stand the visionnary De Tocqueville and the comparison. Bonne chance Mr. Levy... from a French woman from Algeria like you, in love with America for 32 years. A total love affair...
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a study of a foreign culture, that is to Bernard-Henri Lévy it is foreign. To us, however, it is very familier - it is us. Yet American Vertigo is a culture study that studies the wrong culture. We learn nothing of the true America, the values, the individuals. Lévy brings focus to issues and concerns that are foreign to me - and I am one. This is the stuff upon which prejudice is based. An explorer who reports all the wrong information when he returns home, tells of the wierd but not the common, and misrepresents his discoveries with a tone of arrogance and certainty. I am sure if I met Mr. Lévy and told him his book is not actually about America, he would correct me. It's really sad, actually, that some might read this and think it really is about America.