Saturday, December 18, 2010

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The perfect Christmas/Chanukah gift for your anglophone Americanophile friends: the travel writings, diaries, letters, etc. of Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont from their 1831 trip to America, selected by Olivier Zunz and published in my translation by the U. of Virginia Press. This is the stuff from which Democracy in America was made, now in English for the first time (mostly). See Tocqueville among the Quakers. Discover Detroit before automobiles and Eminem. Watch as Tocqueville nearly drowns in the Ohio River and nearly dies in the backwoods of Tennessee. Learn what he thought of American women and song (his thoughts on American wines, if any existed at the time, are not recorded, but you will find him being drunk under the table by the members of the New York City Council). Seriously, a great read.