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Alexis de Tocqueville

A Life

Hugh Brogan


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“Magisterial. . . . The authoritative life for our time."—Washington Post Book World

Alexis de Tocqueville was one of the greatest political thinkers of all time. Born a French aristocrat, he lost nearly his entire family in the Reign of Terror, and he spent most of his adult life struggling for liberty under the unsuccessful regimes of nineteenth-century France. 

At age twenty-five he travelled to America and encountered democracy for the first time. This firsthand experience contributed to his incisive writing on liberty and democracy. The ancien régime launched the scholarly study of the French Revolution, and Democracy in America remains the best book ever written by a European about the United States. This is a brilliant account of his life.

Praise For Alexis de Tocqueville: A Life

“This is a magnificent biography. Hugh Brogan’s knowledge of the details of Tocqueville’s life is extraordinary, as is his erudite account of his family life and of French politics and society in the first half of the nineteenth century. And how splendidly the book is written! Tocqueville’s life was marked by a triumph of character; Hugh Brogan’s biography is a triumph of history and letters.”—John Lukacs

Yale University Press, 9780300136258, 736pp.

Publication Date: April 1, 2008

About the Author

Hugh Brogan held the R. A. Butler Chair in History at the University of Essex and since retiring has had a research professorship there. His books include The Penguin History of the United States and biographies of John F. Kennedy and Arthur Ransome.