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Democracy in America in Contemporary Language, volume 2 by Doug Good

Democracy in America in Contemporary Language, volume 2

by Doug Good

115 pages
Tocqueville's critique of Democracy, paraphrased and shortened but not abridged.

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Category: History
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About the Book
Alexis de Tocqueville did two things in writing Democracy In America. He described the American citizens and the American experience from the perspective of a foreigner. He also presented a case study in political sociology. As history, his writing may be criticized, and is understandably outdated on many points now, but his offering has enduring value because of his philosophic and analytic skills. As a writer he was a talented craftsman. It is a challenge to paraphrase him without removing the life from his depictions.

Tocqueville's prose is not difficult to read nor are his points obscure. But much of the information he includes is extra baggage and the detail at times serves as a drag. Then, too, the style of 19th century writing has more flourish than contemporary readers find acceptable. This paraphrase treatment hopefully gives a hydroplaning effect to Tocquevills message, while still delivering it safely and undamaged. This version is both brief (about 30% of the original) and inclusive. All the author presented is here--minus the belaboring, the extra example, and the unnecessary detail.

His first volume focuses on U.S. government as a system, often contrasting it to France. He assesses democracy as prone to inefficiency and mediocricy, but admires the spirit of freedom and the energy and potential power of an aroused citizenry. He remarks how American culture and habits manage to make it all work. This second volume covers more of the culture, manners, habits and mind frame of a people living in an equalitarian environment.

Be assured that this version is not an abridgment in the sense of a depriving or a chopping. It is a faithful excursion through the whole body of text, lifting the essence up for easy viewing. It is a re-expression that retains the freshness that Tocqueville conveyed as a foreign observer excited about his discoveries and the tartness of his disapproval of too much equalitarianism. Where Tocqueville said it best you get his words. We just don't need all of them to get the point.

The kite still flies here but on a shorter string.

 

 

About the Author
Doug Good is an adjunct professor in the San Francisco Bay area. He has graduate degrees in history and religious studies, and holds doctoral candidate status at Claremont Graduate University. He has authored a U.S. history textbook and is developing a series of paraphrase versions of classic books.

 

 

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