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Tocqueville: Democracy in America

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Alexis de Tocqueville and his study of the American democratic system, written as an example to France of how democracy might develop there.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) and his examination of the American democratic system. He wrote De La Démocratie en Amérique in two parts, published in 1835 and 1840, when France was ruled by the July Monarchy of Louis-Philippe. Tocqueville was interested in how aspects of American democracy, in the age of President Andrew Jackson, could be applied to Europe as it moved away from rule by monarchs and aristocrats. His work has been revisited by politicians ever since, particularly in America, with its analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of direct democracy and its warnings of mediocrity and the tyranny of the majority.


Robert Gildea
Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford

Susan-Mary Grant
Professor of American History at Newcastle University


Jeremy Jennings
Professor of Political Theory and Head of the School of Politics & Economics at King's College London

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

51 minutes

Last on

Thu 22 Mar 2018 21:30


Robert Gildea at the University of Oxford

Susan-Mary Grant at Newcastle University

Jeremy Jennings at King's College London

Why Read Tocqueville's Democracy in America?

Alexis de Tocqueville - Wikipedia

Democracy in America - Wikipedia



Gustave de Beaumont and Alexis de Tocqueville, On the Penitentiary System in the United States and its Application to France: The Complete Text (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018)

Hugh Brogan, Alexis de Tocqueville: A Life (Yale University Press, 2008)

Hugh Brogan, Alexis de Tocqueville: Prophet of Democracy in the Age of Revolution (Profile Books, 2006)

A. Craiutu & J.Jennings (eds), Tocqueville on America after 1840 (Cambridge University Press, 2009)

Leo Damrosch, Tocqueville's Discovery of America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010)

Andre Jardin, Tocqueville: A Biography (Halban, 1988)

Lucien Jaume, Tocqueville: The Aristocratic Sources of Liberty (Princeton University Press, 2013)

Alan S. Kahan, Alexis de Tocqueville (Bloomsbury, 2013)

Harvey C. Mansfield, Tocqueville: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2010)

George Wilson Pierson, Tocqueville in America (first published 1938, Johns Hopkins, 1996)

James T. Schleifer, The Chicago Companion to Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (Chicago University Press, 2012)

James T. Schleifer, The Making of Tocqueville's Democracy in America (Chapel Hill, 1980)

Larry Siedentop, Tocqueville (Oxford University Press, 1994)

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (Penguin Books, 2003)



Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Robert Gildea
Interviewed Guest Susan-Mary Grant
Interviewed Guest Jeremy Jennings
Producer Simon Tillotson


  • Thu 22 Mar 2018 09:00
  • Thu 22 Mar 2018 21:30

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