Democracy in America

- Alexis de Tocqueville
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Arguably, one of the most influential and insightful pieces of work concerned with American political life, _Democracy in America_ directs itself towards American politics and society, and is considered to be one the best books written on the subject. Published in 2 volumes, in 1835 and 1840, Tocqueville records his findings after studying the thriving nation in his nine month exploratory journey. The young French aristocrat first came to America on an official assignment to study the American penal system, but instead used this as a pretext to study American society. Consequently, he used his time in America to analyze the improved living standards and individual social conditions which were induced by a stable democratic approach. Additionally, he set out to compare the structure of the democratic system with the aristocratic regime present in France. Tocqueville begins his expedition with a description of the shifting social circumstances, as the social and economical standing of men have become more equal unlike its aristocratic predecessor which is slowly disappearing. The first part of the book revolves around the structure of the government and analyzes American institutions which assist in upholding freedom and equality, while the second volume examines individuals and the effects of democracy in society, with economics, family life, and religion among the topics analyzed. Nevertheless, the young French aristocrat was also conscious of the dangers and threats that could appear as result of exceeding liberation and equality. Interestingly, Tocqueville also noted some areas in society where change has been evident and made predictions about where such democratic trends could lead. Some of his judicious ideas are on the subject of slavery, status of women in society, and oligarchy. Regarded as an early work of political science and sociology, _Democracy in America_ is an essential read to better understand the democratic system, its history, and underlying dangers. A timeless piece, highly valuable for its content on early American democracy, the observations made in the book are still relevant today, serving as a reminder of the past, and an incentive for a better future.

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