Catalogue


Letters from America /
Alexis de Tocqueville ; edited, translated, and with an introduction by Frederick Brown.
imprint
New Haven : Yale University Press, c2010.
description
xx, 284 p. : ill.
ISBN
0300153821 (hbk.), 9780300153828 (hbk.)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New Haven : Yale University Press, c2010.
isbn
0300153821 (hbk.)
9780300153828 (hbk.)
contents note
The crossing -- In New York -- Upstate New York and west -- New England -- From Philadelphia to New Orleans -- The last leg : from New Orleans to Washington and New York -- Appendix: Tocqueville on civil law in Pennsylvania.
general note
Includes excerpts from travelling companion Gustave de Beaumont.
catalogue key
7355678
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2010-11-15:
Readers who enjoyed Peter Carey's novel Parrot & Olivier in America, which riffs on Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont's visit to America in 1831, should be delighted by this collection. For here is the real thing: the first English-language translation of all of Tocqueville's letters from that visit, supplemented by the correspondence of his friend and traveling partner Beaumont. Although the companions originally traveled to America to study penal reform, they commented freely on everything they experienced. Many ideas eventually appearing in Tocqueville's two-volume Democracy in America (1835; 1840) first surfaced in these letters: the American infatuation with commerce, a seemingly infinite frontier and cheap land for everyone, the absence of primogeniture, weak central government, the anomalous standing of religion. The young men noticed American women, too, though not always admiringly. Slavery appalled them, as did the ruthless treatment of indigenous tribes. VERDICT It's no surprise that the letters are jam-packed with insightful observations. What is surprising is how alive they are even today. This is living history, not embalmed. A collection that combines both charm and historical relevance, it should appeal widely.-David Keymer, Modesto, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 2011-08-01:
Letters from America vividly conveys the experiences of a journey through America that resulted in Tocqueville's classic Democracy in America (1835). The correspondence actually has a coauthor. Tocqueville's traveling companion, Gustave de Beaumont, composed nearly one-third of the letters in this collection and became the principal author of their joint study of American prisons (On the Penitentiary System in the United States ..., 1833). Writing to their families and intimate friends, both travelers included many observations of special interest to their correspondents, especially Catholics and French-speaking inhabitants in North America. The letters offer readers a cascade of first impressions and enduring European perspectives and prejudices. They incessantly juggled ideas that might synthesize American society into a coherent and logical system. Toward the journey's end, Tocqueville's correspondence reveals an understanding about how much more he needed to learn about both France and America in order to complete his investigation. No better evidence is needed to dissipate the oft-repeated assertion that the journey merely confirmed perspectives embedded in Tocqueville's thought long before he began his transatlantic adventure. Readers should be mindful of a similar recent publication, Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont in America, edited by Olivier Zung (CH, Jun'11, 48-5889). Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. S. Drescher University of Pittsburgh
Reviews
Review Quotes
"These magnificent letters, splendidly edited and audaciously translated, not only convey Tocqueville''s immediate impressions and reflective wisdom about ''the happiest people'' and their materialist mode, about Indians and slaves, but beautifully express the beguiling character of the young writer. A treasure."Fritz Stern, author of Five Germanys I Have Known
"These magnificent letters, splendidly edited and audaciously translated, not only convey Tocqueville''s immediate impressions and reflective wisdom about ''the happiest people'' and their materialist mode, about Indians and slaves, but beautifully express the beguiling character of the young writer. A treasure."Fritz Stern, author ofFive Germanys I Have Known
"[ Letters from America] provide[s] significant insights--above all, into [Tocqueville''s] mental habit of ''making comparisons.'' . . . But beyond their value in understanding Democracy in America, the letters are often simply delightful."--Daniel E. Ritchie, Books & Culture
"These candid letters illuminate the purposes and perceptions of America''s most famous foreign interpreter. Reading them, Tocqueville becomes an engaging personality, not simply the name of a revered text."Daniel Walker Howe, author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848
"How welcome! How charming! Tocqueville's letters from the U.S. and Canada are now presented in workmanlike American English for the first time. Everyone can enjoy them and learn from them. I do."Hugh Brogan, author ofAlexis de Tocqueville
"These candid letters illuminate the purposes and perceptions of America''s most famous foreign interpreter. Reading them, Tocqueville becomes an engaging personality, not simply the name of a revered text."Daniel Walker Howe, author ofWhat Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848
"Ably translated. . . . Illumines the great work Democracy in America."Daniel J. Mahoney, The New Criterion
"How welcome! How charming! Tocqueville's letters from the U.S. and Canada are now presented in workmanlike American English for the first time. Everyone can enjoy them and learn from them. I do."Hugh Brogan, author of Alexis de Tocqueville
This item was reviewed in:
Booklist, November 2010
Library Journal, November 2010
Choice, August 2011
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
Bowker Data Service Summary
Alexis de Tocqueville arrived in the United States for the first time in May 1831, commissioned by the French government to study the American prison system. He frequently reported back to friends and family members in France through the letters. This book presents the translation of the letters Tocqueville wrote during that seminal journey.
Main Description
Young Alexis de Tocqueville arrived in the United States for the first time in May 1831, commissioned by the French government to study the American prison system. For the next nine months he and his companion, Gustave de Beaumont, traveled and observed not only prisons but also the political, economic, and social systems of the early republic. Along the way, they frequently reported back to friends and family members in France. This book presents the first translation of the complete letters Tocqueville wrote during that seminal journey, accompanied by excerpts from Beaumont's correspondence that provide details or different perspectives on the places, people, and American life and attitudes the travelers encountered. These delightful letters provide an intimate portrait of the complicated, talented Tocqueville, who opened himself without prejudice to the world of Jacksonian America. Moreover, they contain many of the impressions and ideas that served as preliminary sketches forDemocracy in America, his classic account of the American democratic system that remains an important reference work to this day. Accessible, witty, and charming, the letters Tocqueville penned while in America are of major interest to general readers, scholars, and students alike.
Main Description
Includes excerpts from traveling companion Gustave de Beaumont.
Main Description
Young Alexis de Tocqueville arrived in the United States for the first time in May 1831, commissioned by the French government to study the American prison system. For the next nine months he and his companion, Gustave de Beaumont, traveled and observed not only prisons but also the political, economic, and social systems of the early republic. Along the way, they frequently reported back to friends and family members in France. This book presents the first translation of the complete letters Tocqueville wrote during that seminal journey, accompanied by excerpts from Beaumont's correspondence that provide details or different perspectives on the places, people, and American life and attitudes the travelers encountered. These delightful letters provide an intimate portrait of the complicated, talented Tocqueville, who opened himself without prejudice to the world of Jacksonian America. Moreover, they contain many of the impressions and ideas that served as preliminary sketches for Democracy in America, his classic account of the American democratic system that remains an important reference work to this day. Accessible, witty, and charming, the letters Tocqueville penned while in America are of major interest to general readers, scholars, and students alike.

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