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On Democracy in America was published in two parts. In 1831 the French government sent Tocqueville, then a 35 year old aristocrat and statesman, on a mission to report on the US prison system. During his nine month trip however, he and his buddy Gustave de Beaumont recorded much more: the budding nation's economic and political system, and its social, cultural and religious systems during a the tumultuous Jacksonian political era.

The central focus of Democracy in America is the study of the nature of representative democracy - why it had succeeded in the US and failed throughout Europe. With no punches pulled, Tocqueville also does a solid job of predicting where democracy was headed in the US, including the the dangers of democracy - "tyranny of the majority" - as well as the threats to democracy such as the divisive nature of slavery, and a future rivalry with Russia.

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