Title: American Journey: Traveling with Tocqueville in Search of Democracy in America
Author: Reeves, Richard
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, New York
Publication Date: 1982
Edition: First Edition
Book Condition: NF
D-j Condition: VG
Comments: D-j pc’d and has one spot on the back. Fore-edge has one tiny spot.
Synopsis: In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville began a nine-month journey in search of what he later called “Democracy in America.” Using Tocqueville’s original notes, Richard Reeves retraced those travels, going to the same places to find the modern counterparts of the Americans of the 1830s.
Tocqueville and Reeves both began their journeys in Newport, Rhode Island, and then traveled through new York and Philadelphia, crisscrossing the country to Michigan in the north and Louisiana in the south. But Tocqueville’s ride from the St. Clair River to the wilderness of Saginaw Bay became, for Reeves, a walk into the wildness of Detroit.
Tocqueville’s conversations with an embittered ex-President, John Quincy Adams, echoed over the years when Reeves asked similar questions of Richard Nixon. Tocqueville interviewed the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence, Charles Carroll, the richest man in America. Reeves traced the signer’s lineage to the direct descendant who was not admitted to the great medical school that stands on an old family estate.
Who are these nomad people, the Americans? How does this democracy of theirs work? Tocqueville asked and answered those questions in his time, and Reeves asked them again of the governors and the governed, of presidents and priests, of laborers and lawyers, in offices in Washington, prison cells in Philadelphia, banks in Manhattan, and classrooms in Boston and Los Angeles.
Ultimately, the American is more optimistic than the Frenchman was. Tocqueville believed that a democratic people could never rise above themselves and their own petty demands and hatreds. Reeves discovered, almost with astonishment, a people better than his predictions, better than their leaders–and, at their best, almost as good as their ideals.