Summary: Harvey Mansfield and Delba Winthrop’s new translation of Democracy in America (University of Chicago, 2000) is only the third since the original two-volume work was published in 1835 and 1840. It is a spectacular achievement, capturing the elegance, subtlety, and profundity of Tocqueville’s original. Mansfield and Winthrop have restored the nuances of his language, with the expressed goal “to convey Tocqueville’s thought as he held it rather than to restate it in comparable terms today.” The result is a translation with minimal interpretation, avoiding the problem that Tocqueville himself read in the first translation of Democracy in America. Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is the most often quoted book about the United States, not only because it has something to interest and please everyone, but also because it has something to teach everyone.
Harvey C. Mansfield is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Government at Harvard University. He is the author of many books, including, Statesmanship and Party Government, The Spirit of Liberalism, Machiavelli New Modes and Orders, America’s Constitutional Soul, and Taming the Prince: The Ambivalence of Modern Executive Power. He has also translated Machiavelli Prince, Discourses, and Florentine Histories.
Delba Winthrop is Lecturer in Extension and administrator of the Program on Constitutional Government at Harvard University. She has published numerous scholarly essays on various themes in political philosophy, including on the thought of Alexis de Tocqueville. They are married.