GUIDE: Alexis de Tocqueville – Democracy in America

Merri’s Introduction:

This guide is intended to help introduce new readers to Tocqueville’s magnum opus and landmark work on the American experiment, Democracy in America.  At the time of this writing, I have only completed the first section of this guide. In the coming weeks and months, the rest of this guide will be written and published for free here on QNUW.  Each part will be accessible through the links below.

I have organized my presentation under the attempt to summarize and offer very brief commentary on roughly one hundred pages of Tocqueville’s work at a time.  Additionally, I have tried my best to keep the guidebook summaries per section to be under sixteen pages in length (~8,800 words).  So far, I’ve succeeded, but as I mentioned, I haven’t yet written the rest of the guide yet.

I do not claim to be an expert on Alexis de Tocqueville.  I’ve read a decent amount of his work, all things considered, but I am by no means a credited historian nor even a tenured professor of the liberal arts.  Nor, really, do I have much of an interest in being such.  This guide is not intended for academic study per se, but rather to help bring newcomers to conservatism—and even those not so new to conservatism—into the a greater understanding of their ideological and philosophical traditions.

For this guide, I have used Liberty Fund’s two volume edition of Democracy in America, edited by Eduardo Nolla and translated by James T. Schleifer which first came out in 2010 and then again in 2012.  It’s one of the nicest-looking and easiest to read editions out there, and I highly recommend it over any other I’ve come across.  It also includes some hundred pages of introduction by the editor, which helps to shed light not only on Tocqueville himself, but also on the process of combining the manuscripts of Democracy in America with some of the supplemental material included in this edition.

I’ll cite the work here for anyone committed enough to ask:

Tocqueville, Alexis de.  Democracy in America.  Ed. Eduardo Nolla. Trans. James T. Schleifer. 2 vols. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, Inc, 2010, 2012.

A Guide to Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America

Volume 1

Part I
1. Tocqueville’s Introduction, Chapters 1-4
2. Chapters 5-7
3. Chapter 8

Part II
4. Chapters 1-6
5. Chapters 7-9
6. Chapter 10 & Vol 1’s Conclusion

Volume 2

Part I
7. Chapters 1-10
8. Chapters 11-21

Part II
9. Chapters 1-20

Part III
10. Chapters 1-16
11. Chapters 17-26

Part IV
12. Chapters 1-8

13. Appendices 1-6

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