London: Saunders and Otley, 1838, 1840. First English language edition. Third Edition of Part One and First Edition of Part Two. Four octavo volumes (pages: 198 x 120 mm) bound uniformly in the publisher's cloth, likely sold together as a set in 1840 (using the remaining 1838 sheets for part one). Collating: xxxvi, 302, [2, ads]; viii, 325, [2, ads]; xv, 333, [2, ads]; viii, 365, [2, ads]; complete with the folding map in part one, half-titles to the first two volumes and 2 pages of ads at the rear of each volume. A touch of foxing to the final volume, but otherwise exceptionally clean internally. Extremely rare in cloth in any condition, let alone in such an exquisite state of preservation. Near Fine overall, unread and completely unrestored.
De Tocqueville, a French aristocrat, visited America between 1831 and 1832, ostensibly to study the penal system, although his interest was considerably broader. It seems logical that France would look to America as a beacon of hope for a successful democracy. After France embraced the goals of equality and democracy in 1789 at the start of the French Revolution, it found itself first in a dictatorship under Napoleon and then in one constitutional monarchy after another during the years following. De Tocqueville's astute observation of several aspects of American society and culture provides an invaluable lens of foreign perspective on our young nation's political growth.
Democracy in America was an immediate and sustained success. Almost from the beginning it enjoyed the reputation of being the most acute and perceptive discussion of the political and social life of the United States ever published. Whether perceived as a textbook of American political institutions, an investigation of society and culture, a probing of the psyche of the United States, or a study of the actions of modern democratic society, the book has maintained its place high within the pantheon of political writing. "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" (The New York Times).
Howes T-278, 279. Sabin 96062, 96063. Clark III:111. Near Fine. (3178) Near Fine (Item #3178)