Richard Reeves American Journey: Travelling with Tocqueville in Search of Democracy in America.
Simon & Schuster, 399 pages, $15.95

It is a rare month when a newspaper column, article, or book doesn’t appear in which Alexis de Tocqueville is either featured or made the authority for views on man and society ranging from the ideological Left to the Right. In 1925 a Frenchman, Antoine Redier, wrote a biographical study of Tocqueville entitled Comme Disait M. de Tocqueville. Today the phrase “as Tocqueville said” fills the literary and political atmosphere: effects like those to be had in the 1920s with “as Mencken said” or “as Dorothy Parker said” are now achieved almost exclusively by citing Tocqueville, although in the latter case wisdom is the holy grail instead of wit and humor. Someone, Max Beloff I think, has aptly referred to “the Tocqueville industry.” It...

 

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