Catalogue


Tocqueville between two worlds : the making of a political and theoretical life /
Sheldon S. Wolin.
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2001.
description
viii, 650 p.
ISBN
0691074364
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, c2001.
isbn
0691074364
catalogue key
4589019
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Sheldon S. Wolin is Emeritus Professor of Politics, Princeton University.
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"Sheldon Wolin's Tocqueville between Two Worlds conveys a sweep of historical analysis that gives us deep insight not only into Tocqueville himself but also into the American character. The result is a work of supreme scholarship that sheds light on America's present and possible future as well as its past."-- -Senator Bill Bradley "In his new interpretation of Tocqueville, Sheldon Wolin speaks with a master's voice. For him, Tocqueville's theme is the revival of the political within democracy and against the tendencies of democracy. There is no grander topic for us today, and Wolin's treatment is penetrating, thorough, and authoritative. This is a major work of political theory."-- Harvey Mansfield, Harvard University "Sheldon Wolin is perhaps the most compelling American political theorist writing in the last half of the twentieth century. Here is a new book to launch the twenty-first, one that shows us how pertinent Tocqueville remains for democrats today and why Wolin continues to inspire so many political theorists."-- William E. Connolly, author of Why I Am Not a Secularist "Sheldon Wolin has given us a study of Tocqueville worthy of its subject, the greatest interpreter of American democracy. More than a masterful account of Tocqueville's life and thought, Wolin's book is likely to be an enduring work of political theory in its own right. Drawing on Tocqueville's concern with the fate of the political, Wolin offers sobering insights into the democratic prospect in our time."-- Michael Sandel, Harvard University, author of Democracy's Discontent "This is a magisterial study, a major interpretation of Tocqueville as a political theorist. Wolin has not simply restored Tocqueville to a forgotten place of honor in the canon of political theory. He has created a new place for him, showing how deep and extensive the range of Tocqueville's considerations of democracy have been, paralleling the path of modernity itself."-- Thomas Dumm, Amherst College
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2001-09-01:
Best known for his groundbreaking study Politics and Vision (1960), Wolin has been an influential political philosopher for over 40 years. In this massive masterwork, he examines the "theoretical journey" of Alexis de Tocqueville, author of the indispensable Democracy in America (1835-39). For Wolin, the importance of Tocqueville's classic work is that it marked the first time democracy was the central focus of a political theory, and it also served as an early link between liberalism and democracy. Wolin concentrates on Tocqueville's active political life, including his experiences with the conflicting political movements in Europe and his efforts to import the vibrant nature of American politics to France. He also analyzes the political meaning of Tocqueville's lesser-known writings, Souveniers (1893) and The Old Regime and the Revolution (1856). He is well steeped in the history of political theory, and the book is generously documented with over 60 pages of notes. By writing this biography of "political and theoretical choices made over time," Wolin has effectively written the history of modern political theory. Like Democracy in America, this is a work that will endure and be studied by future generations of scholars. Highly recommended for academic libraries. Thomas A. Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 2002-04-01:
Wolin's ambitious and very comprehensive study situates Tocqueville between the life of theory and politics, the old world and the new, aristocracy and democracy, and argues that he was in all cases deeply aware of, even energized by, the tensions inherent in these oppositions. Tocqueville wrote "as though in the presence of a deep political rupture which it was his personal fate to represent theoretically and his duty to heal politically." His goal was to restore awareness of "the political" in a broad sense, in the face of modern tendencies toward privatizing individual life or toward subordinating political choice and action to the imperatives of science or history. Wolin (emer., Princeton Univ.) traces the development of this argument across all of Tocqueville's works, with unusual sensitivity to the indications left by Tocqueville about his own inner struggles as he tried to fashion himself into a true "political man." This book is an unusually penetrating and stimulating guide to Tocqueville the man and theorist as well as to modern political thought generally as it might be seen if considered from a Tocquevillian point of view. It is a major contribution. All academic collections and general readers; lower-level undergraduates and above. D. J. Maletz University of Oklahoma
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Wolin wants to make Tocqueville into a serious postmodern thinker. For Wolin, Tocqueville puts his finger on the central conflict in American life, which is between the forms of democracy and real politics."-- Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker
"Wolin offers a Tocqueville who is extraordinarily complex, deeply conflicted and by no means the uncritical booster of democratic possibility he is sometimes made out to be. . . . Tocqueville Between Two Worlds is as much an intellectual biography as it is a work of more abstract political thought. In Wolin's hands an appreciation of the power of Tocqueville's contributions to Western political thought is enhanced by pegging his work to his often fretful life story."-- Jean Bethke Elshtain, Washington Post Book World
"[Wolin seeks to] demonstrate that what [Tocqueville] produced was a 'coherent theoretical and political project'--and one still relevant not just to American political debate, but to our understanding of democratic systems on both sides of the Atlantic.... Wolin here develops [this view] with enormous intellectual energy and flair through several hundred pages of a book which is clearly intended to be definitive."-- Biancamaria Fontana, The Times Literary Supplement
"The strength of Mr. Wolin's monograph lies in his patient, close readings of Tocqueville's major woks. . . . Wolin sets Tocqueville in a wider intellectual context by relating his thought to the philosophy of Hobbes, Locke, Marx, Nieztsche, among others. . . . He is especially concerned to argue . . . that the participatory democracy Tocqueville celebrated has become, in our postmodern times, economic despotism, or that it threatens to do so."-- Thomas Pavel, Wall Street Journal
" Tocqueville Between Two Worlds . . . is always interesting and sometimes fascinating."-- Alan Ryan, The New York Review of Books
"Wolin here develops [Toqueville's philosophy] with enormous intellectual energy and flair through several hundred pages of a book which is clearly intended to be definitive."-- Biancamaria Fontana, Times Literary Supplement
"Sheldon S. Wolin demonstrates how Toqueville's classic Democracy in America is also a study of aristocracy in America--a subsidiary but fascinating theme that here receives, for the first time, the loving attention it deserves."-- Peregrine Worsthorne, New Statesman
"Sheldon Wolin here revisits the major themes of his influential writing. . . . The premise of this ambitious book is that one can gain a deeper sense of the challenges facing both modern and 'postmodern' politics by following Tocqueville's simultaneous attempts to create a political life and to reinvent political theory by straddling the various dichotomous worlds of Wolin's title."-- Cheryl B. Welch, Political Studies
"Sheldon Wolin's magisterial study of Tocqueville is the culmination of a remarkable body of work on the history of political thought, the harvest of four decades of engaged reflection.... An arresting critique of Tocqueville's theoretical trajectory, illuminated against the backdrop of his public career."-- Gopal Balakrishnan, The New Left Review
"An important and provocative masterwork, one that deserves to achieve enduring status in the years ahead."-- Aristide Tessitore, Journal of Politics
Honorable Mention for the 2001 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Government and Science, Association of American Publishers Winner of the David Easton Award
"In striving to give us Tocqueville whole, and in doing so more than any one writer in English, Mr. Wolin puts us so far in his debt that any criticism seems . . . small souled."-- Will Morrisey, The Washington Times
"One of the most interesting books in political theory published in the last few years. . . . Wolin's theoretical ambition mirrors Tocqueville's own goal of creating a new political science for a new epoch. . . . Like Tocqueville, he has the ambition to educate democratic regime in a society of individuals whose most powerful desire is to get rich and who are ready to abandon public affairs."-- Aurelian Craiutu, Review of Politic
"[An] ambitious and very comprehensive study. . . . This book is an unusually penetrating and stimulating guide to Tocqueville the man and theorist as well as to modern political thought generally as it might be seen if considered from a Tocquevillian point of view. It is a major contribution."-- Choice
"A masterful exploration of Alexis de Tocqueville's entire oeuvre . . . Whether the vestiges of the old world could be used to moderate the fearsome potential of the new one was the problem of Tocqueville's life. Wolin helps us understand this problem and those worlds with the sophistication and subtlety of a scholar steeped in the canon of western political thought."-- Johnathan O'Neill, The Times Higher Education Supplement
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, September 2001
Wall Street Journal, September 2001
Washington Post, November 2001
Choice, April 2002
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Unpaid Annotation
Alexis de Tacqueville may be the most influential political thinker in American history. He also led an ambitious and active career in French politics. In this magisterial book, one of America's most important political theorists draws on decades of thought to present the first work that fully connects Tocqueville's political and theoretical lives. In doing so, Sheldon Wolin presents sweeping new interpretations of Tocqueville's major works, of his place in intellectual history, and of the trajectory of Western political life over the past two hundred years.
Publisher Fact Sheet
One of America's most important contemporary theorists draws on decades of research & thought to present the first work that fully connects Tocqueville's political & theoretical lives.
Main Description
Alexis de Tocqueville may be the most influential political thinker in American history. He also led an unusually active and ambitious career in French politics. In this magisterial book, one of America's most important contemporary theorists draws on decades of research and thought to present the first work that fully connects Tocqueville's political and theoretical lives. In doing so, Sheldon Wolin presents sweeping new interpretations of Tocqueville's major works and of his place in intellectual history. As he traces the origins and impact of Tocqueville's ideas, Wolin also offers a profound commentary on the general trajectory of Western political life over the past two hundred years.Wolin proceeds by examining Tocqueville's key writings in light of his experiences in the troubled world of French politics. He portraysDemocracy in America, for example, as a theory of discovery that emerged from Tocqueville's contrasting experiences of America and of France's constitutional monarchy. He shows us how Tocqueville used Recollections to reexamine his political commitments in light of the revolutions of 1848 and the threat of socialism. He portraysThe Old Regime and the French Revolutionas a work of theoretical history designed to throw light on the Bonapartist despotism he saw around him. Throughout, Wolin highlights the tensions between Tocqueville's ideas and his activities as a politician, arguing that--despite his limited political success--Tocqueville was ''perhaps the last influential theorist who can be said to have truly cared about political life.''In the course of the book, Wolin also shows that Tocqueville struggled with many of the forces that constrain politics today, including the relentless advance of capitalism, of science and technology, and of state bureaucracy. He concludes that Tocqueville's insights and anxieties about the impotence of politics in a ''postaristocratic'' era speak directly to the challenges of our own ''postdemocratic'' age. A monumental new study of Tocqueville, this is also a rich and provocative work about the past, the present, and the future of democratic life in America and abroad.
Main Description
Alexis de Tocqueville may be the most influential political thinker in American history. He also led an unusually active and ambitious career in French politics. In this magisterial book, one of America's most important contemporary theorists draws on decades of research and thought to present the first work that fully connects Tocqueville's political and theoretical lives. In doing so, Sheldon Wolin presents sweeping new interpretations of Tocqueville's major works and of his place in intellectual history. As he traces the origins and impact of Tocqueville's ideas, Wolin also offers a profound commentary on the general trajectory of Western political life over the past two hundred years. Wolin proceeds by examining Tocqueville's key writings in light of his experiences in the troubled world of French politics. He portrays Democracy in America , for example, as a theory of discovery that emerged from Tocqueville's contrasting experiences of America and of France's constitutional monarchy. He shows us how Tocqueville used Recollections to reexamine his political commitments in light of the revolutions of 1848 and the threat of socialism. He portrays The Old Regime and the French Revolution as a work of theoretical history designed to throw light on the Bonapartist despotism he saw around him. Throughout, Wolin highlights the tensions between Tocqueville's ideas and his activities as a politician, arguing that--despite his limited political success--Tocqueville was ''perhaps the last influential theorist who can be said to have truly cared about political life.'' In the course of the book, Wolin also shows that Tocqueville struggled with many of the forces that constrain politics today, including the relentless advance of capitalism, of science and technology, and of state bureaucracy. He concludes that Tocqueville's insights and anxieties about the impotence of politics in a ''postaristocratic'' era speak directly to the challenges of our own ''postdemocratic'' age. A monumental new study of Tocqueville, this is also a rich and provocative work about the past, the present, and the future of democratic life in America and abroad.
Bowker Data Service Summary
An influential political thinker in American history, Alexis de Tocqueville also had an active career in French politics. This work connects Tocqueville's political & theoretical lives & presents a new interpretation of his works & place in history.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 3
The Abundance of Powerp. 11
Modern Theory and Modern Powerp. 13
Theoria: The Theoretical Journeyp. 34
Encountering the Amazingp. 57
Discovering Democracyp. 59
Self and Structurep. 76
Doubt and Disconnectionp. 102
"... The Theory of What is Great"p. 113
Myth and Political Impressionismp. 132
The Spectacle of Americap. 149
The Theoretical Encapsulation of Americap. 169
Social Contract versus Political Culturep. 171
The Culture of the Political: "the rituals of practice"p. 202
Feudal Americap. 229
Majority Rule or Majority Politicsp. 241
Centralization and Dissolutionp. 260
The Image of Democracyp. 275
Persona and the Politics of Theoryp. 287
Tragic Hero, Popular Maskp. 289
The Democratization of Culturep. 304
Despotism and Utopiap. 339
Old New World, New Old Worldp. 365
Tocquevillean Democracyp. 374
The Penitentiary Temptationp. 383
Second Journey to Americap. 407
The Political Education of the Bourgeoisiep. 409
Souvenirs: Recollections In/Tranquillityp. 428
Souvenirs: Socialism and the Crisis of the Politicalp. 456
The Old Regime and the Revolution: Mythistoricus et theoreticusp. 498
The Old Regime: Modernization and the Politics of Lossp. 531
Postdemocracyp. 561
Notesp. 573
Indexp. 641
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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