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Publisher's Summary

In 1831, a young French aristocrat named Alexis de Tocqueville came to the United States officially to appraise the country’s penal system - but with a higher personal goal in mind. Looking to America’s unique democratic system as a possible model for post-revolutionary France, Tocqueville set about to study the culture, character, and institutions of the evolving nation. "I confess that in America I saw more than America,” he said; “I sought the image of democracy itself, with its inclinations, its character, its prejudices, and its passions, in order to learn what we have to fear or hope from its progress." His resulting work, the classic Democracy in America, proved so insightful and prophetic that it continues to command the attention of historians, scholars, and politicians today.

©1969 J. P. Mayer (P)1989 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"No better study of a nation's institutions and culture than Tocqueville's Democracy in America has ever been written by a foreign observer; none perhaps as good." (New York Times)
“It's hard to think of a work that has so influenced our understanding of the United States as this—still the most authoritative, reflective set of observations about American institutions and the American character ever written.” (Publishers Weekly)
"[George Lawrence's] wonderful style has given us a work that will be a standard for many years." (Library Journal)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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A great work read horribly

The reader has a very strong English accent which required much concentration to understand. Furthermore, he constantly dropped the volume of his speaking voice at the end of sentences making it even more difficult to follow. The recording should be remastered to at least improve the volume issues.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A CLASSIC, BUT TOUGH GOING

I have known for a long time that this is a book I should read. I am a bit over half way through and about to bail, probably listen again when I'm in a better frame of mind. Some of the Frenchman's observations about my country are interesting and even funny. Then he goes off talking about aristocracies and his own philosophy based on his travels and viewpoint. Now it is holiday time and I am going to sleep or else not really following. I have enjoyed Frederick Davidson's other readings in the past. He is insufferable reading this. Something about his voice just makes de Toqueville sound like a pompous British ass instead of the very young Frenchman he was.

I'm mature and somewhat an intellectual and will hang in to finish something worthwhile. So I will come back to this. I am writing this review partly because nobody else has written one. This book requires careful listening. I think women especially will be irritated, as we have all met this know-it-all in a bar somewhere! So if you have an assignment to read this book, get this, as it is very well read; it tracks well. If you want a "good listen," please just keep looking.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Brian
  • Issaquah, WA, United States
  • 05-28-13

Narrated by a speak and spell

What disappointed you about Democracy in America?

The book is great, but the narrator sounds like a speak and spell. The accent is too think and the voice is monotone leaving it nearly impossible to get into the content of the book.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Marianne
  • PETERSHAM, MASSACHUSETTS, United States
  • 09-10-16

Still relevant

Where does Democracy in America rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It rates in the top third of books I have listened to, although saying that, I am particularly careful about choosing the reader as that can make or break my enjoyment

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The relevancy to todays politics

What about Frederick Davidson’s performance did you like?

He is one of my favourite readers. He has an old fashioned English voice which brings gravitas, humour and authority to whatever he reads

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

not possible

Any additional comments?

Democracy is part of our DNA and the Tocqueville, although an observer in 1830 still has relevancy and should be read by all who are interested in Americas development

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This is US.

Stunning observation and projection of American society. All you need to know. I would have preferred an American English reading.

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  • BLV
  • N Las Vegas, NV
  • 12-21-12

Irritating

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

People who don't like the U.S.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

That there is another version with a better narrator

How could the performance have been better?

The attitude of the narrator

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The book is considered a classic.

Any additional comments?

I hope to get my credit back and purchase the other version. Listen for yourself. Maybe it's me.

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

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PURSUIT OF EQUALITY

“Democracy in America”, published in 1835, argues that the pursuit of equality makes America unique. Actually published in two volumes, the first in 1835 and the second in 1840, Alexis de Tocqueville explains the essential difference between America and the rest of the 19TH century world. Surprisingly, it is not the quest for freedom. It is the pursuit of equality.

Some believe what makes America unique is freedom but Hobbes notes that freedom is anarchic. Evidence of that truth is apparent today in Libya and other nations; i.e. nations bereft of government, or severely challenged by civil unrest. Countries without government, or overwhelming civil unrest are anarchic. De Tocqueville notes that pursuit of equality mitigates anarchy. He argues that the drive for equality in early nineteenth century America (not the drive for sameness or economic leveling, but the equality of being human) is America’s uniqueness.

Many think freedom is the most important aspect of democracy but de Tocqueville’s argument is that the drive for equality is what makes America historically unique. America is still struggling with equality. The drive for equality remains America’s hope, and its opportunity, to remain a great nation. America’s drive for equality is playing out in the politics of twenty first century Democratic and Republican elections. It is also evident on the streets of America’s cities.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful