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A Biography

Translated by L. Davis, R. Hemenway
By (author) Andre Jardin
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Peter Halban Publishers Ltd, London, United Kingdom
Published: 27th Oct 1988
Dimensions: w 150mm h 230mm
Weight: 865g
ISBN-10: 1870015134
ISBN-13: 9781870015134
Barcode No: 9781870015134

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Kirkus US
Originally published in France in 1984, this is a major biography of the author of Democracy in America, by the director of the French Tocqueville Commission and general editor of the 20-volume edition of Tocqueville's works being published by that commission. Democracy in America is generally considered to be one of the most perceptive accounts of American culture ever written. What is less often remembered is that Tocqueville was only in his 20s when he wrote it. Jardin has undertaken the first full-scale biography of Tocqueville - including his roots in the aristocracy of postrevolutionary France (his second most-remembered book was The Ancien Regime), his trip to America in 1831 (under the subterfuge that he was studying the penal system across the Atlantic for adaptation in France), and his political career as deputy and foreign minister in the Second Republic. The author shines in bringing out the internal forces prevalent in Tocqueville's life - his early family milieu ("ultra royalist, aristocratic, paternalistic toward the people, and little affected by the trends of the time"); his continual deep personal anxiety (which "had in it both religious disquiet and the anguish of an acutely sensitive social and political conscience"); the brilliance with which he held forth in the Parisian salons of the day, while reserving a special quarter of his life for his rural retreat; and his brooding later years (he died at age 54), when he grieved over not having children of his own and was acutely conscious of time passing. Jardin has penned an authoritative, definitive life of this 19th-century luminary that is already recognized as a classic abroad. It deserves a similar fate here. (Kirkus Reviews)