Democracy in America has always been essential reading for students of American history, and well as of the history of political and social thought. But teachers on the secondary-school and undergraduate levels who might otherwise make generous use of Tocqueville’s luminous text have often been daunted by the length and expense entailed in assigning the whole book. For such teachers, and their students, this careful abridgment of the Democracy, trimmed to half its original length and framed by the editor’s thoughtful introductory essay, will prove to be just what the doctor ordered.
Wilfred M. McClay
G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty, and Director, Center for the History of Liberty
University of Oklahoma
Tocqueville’s unparalleled analysis of the American experiment — his praise of it, and his prescient warnings about a people detached from virtue and religion — should be required reading for every American citizen. This superb abridgment communicates the power of the original in a way that makes thinking with Tocqueville easier than ever. Recommended!
Associate Professor of Theology
The Catholic University of America
Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is one of the most important books–indeed, perhaps the most important book for understanding American politics and society. John D. Wilsey’s abridgment succeeds in placing an accessible version of this magnum opus in the hands of students and general readers, while his Introduction provides a clear guide for understanding the work. By sharing Tocqueville’s ideas broadly, Wilsey has contributed to educating the American democracy.
Jonathan Den Hartog
Associate Professor of History
University of Northwestern-St. Paul, Minnesota
John D. Wilsey’s edition of Democracy in America brings Tocqueville’s essential text into the classroom. Focusing on democracy, liberty, and racial prejudice, Wilsey draws attention to the important themes that have made Tocqueville’s work required reading as both a historical artifact and a statement of political philosophy. With careful abridgment and an approachable introduction, Wilsey helps faculty and students alike understand the meaning of Democracy in America in its own time and today.
Michigan State University, Department of History
Wilsey’s volume on Tocqueville’s notoriously complex Democracy in America does an excellent job of contextualizing for the modern reader. He reminds readers of the importance of reading Tocqueville in a historically critical manner that takes into account Tocqueville’s own views of democracy, as well as the fact that his writings should be properly understood as a “window into Jacksonian America.” Wilsey’s consideration of Tocqueville’s predictions on what slavery and racial inequality might mean for the United States are another important contribution this volume makes to the considerable scholarship on Tocqueville.
Jessica M. Parr
Adjunct Professor and Project Coordinator for Public History, UNH-Manchester
Author of Inventing George Whitefield: Race, Revivalism, and the Making of a Religious Icon
Wilsey’s marvelous editing of Alexis de Tocqueville’s classic Democracy in America is both timely and instructive, given our current political context and racial climate in twenty-first century America. Students, professors and the general reader will benefit from a renewed edition of Tocqueville’s prescient nineteenth century observations of our still-burgeoning Republic as well as from Wilsey’s skillful teasing out of Tocqueville’s views on race and slavery in a fresh, thoughtful and insightful introduction. This book will be a benefit to American classrooms and a “must have” for educator’s libraries for decades to come.
Otis W. Pickett
Assistant Professor of History
John D. Wilsey has achieved something near impossible–the abridgment of Alexis de Tocqueville’s masterpiece Democracy in America while retaining its core contributions to our understanding of Jacksonian America up to the present. In his introduction, Wilsey provides readers an excellent guide for understanding Tocqueville’s treatment of equality, democracy, liberty, and especially slavery. This volume is perfect for high school and college students, but any curious reader could pick up a copy to start his or her study of this classic text.
James M. Patterson
Assistant Professor of Politics
Ave Maria University
Framed by a thoughtful introduction to Democracy in America’s historical context and its core philosophical and social concerns, this volume deftly balances reader accessibility with coverage of essential elements of the original text.
W.K. Mattison Professor of History
Alexis de Tocqueville is the greatest political theorist of democracy, and Democracy in America is his greatest writing. Editor John D. Wilsey provides an excellent introduction to Tocqueville’s thought and a judicious abridgement of the book that trims it down to half its original size, while retaining Tocqueville’s most important thoughts on issues such as democracy, liberty, religion, and race. Highly recommended.
Provost and Professor of Theism and Culture
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary