Tocqueville

America on the Brink of Oligarchy
August 24, 2012

The Unheavenly Chorus: Unequal Political Voice and the Broken Promise of American Democracy By Kay Lehman Schlozman, Sidney Verba, and Henry E. Brady (Princeton University Press, 693 pp., $35) Oligarchy By Jeffrey A. Winters (Cambridge University Press, 323 pp., $29.99) The MoveOn Effect: The Unexpected Transformation of American Political Advocacy By David Karpf (Oxford University Press, 237 pp., $27.95)   THIS IS A SEASON of political anxiety, and the source of that unease is not only the election and looming economic uncertainties.

The Counter-Thinker
August 05, 2010

 The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism By Pascal Bruckner Translated by Steven Rendall (Princeton University Press, 239 pp., $26.95) I. Once upon a time, it seemed an incontestable fact that the life of the mind radiated from the Left Bank outward. Within a small quadrant of the Latin Quarter in Paris, an intellectual elite labored to produce magisterial works that lesser minds all over the world received eagerly, gratefully—and by and large uncritically.

American Journalism Comes Full Circle
July 22, 2010

The characteristic of the American journalist consists in an open and coarse appeal to the passions of his readers; he abandons principles to assail the characters of individuals, to track them into private life and disclose all their weaknesses and vices. A description of Andrew Breitbart’s consistently scummy contributions to our public discourse? A reaction to ideological strategizing among the members of the liberal listserve Journolist? Hardly. The quotation comes from the first volume of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, published in 1835.

The Counter-Thinker
July 21, 2010

The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western MasochisBy Pascal Bruckner Translated by Steven Rendall (Princeton University Press, 239 pp., $26.95) I. Once upon a time, it seemed an incontestable fact that the life of the mind radiated from the Left Bank outward. Within a small quadrant of the Latin Quarter in Paris, an intellectual elite labored to produce magisterial works that lesser minds all over the world received eagerly, gratefully—and by and large uncritically.

Gonzo Sociology
October 08, 2008

The Politics of Truth: Selected Writings of C. Wright Mills Edited by John Summers (Oxford University Press, 320 pp., $21.95) C.Wright Mills published his sociological trilogy during the 1950s: White Collar in 1951, The Power Elite in 1956, The Sociological Imagination in 1959. Those were years of Republican ascendancy, and while the president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was a moderate, the vice president, Richard Nixon, and a number of key senators, including Joe McCarthy, belonged to the conservative wing of the party.

Getting In
May 08, 2006

Alan Wolfe: What the immigration debate tells us about who Americans are, and who they want to be.

Sister Act
October 10, 2005

The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism By Megan Marshall (Houghton Mifflin, 602 pp., $28) “I am determined on distinction,” the teenaged Margaret Fuller vowed in 1825, as she made her first forays into Boston society. Elizabeth and Sophia Peabody, whom Fuller would soon meet, came of age in the same place and time with similar convictions. They were slightly older than Fuller, and much poorer, but they were determined to cultivate “genius.” For the first time in the Republic’s history, such hopes in a woman seemed dreamy, not mad.

What God Owes Jefferson
May 23, 2005

God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It By Jim Wallis (HarperSanFrancisco, 384 pp., $24.95) Taking Faith Seriously Edited by Mary Jo Bane, Brent Coffin, and Richard Higgins (Harvard University Press, 381 pp., $29.95) The phenomenon of martyrdom demonstrates that political success and personal salvation do not generally go together. The faithful find grace not in building winning coalitions, but in worshipping God's glory. Gazing toward heaven means stumbling on earth, a small price to pay for the rewards that await. For a deeply religious society, the Unit

On Beauty
April 24, 2005

It was a glorious spring day so my husband and I took the subway up to 104th Street to visit one of our favorite places in the city--the formal gardens in Central Park. They are not nearly so expansive or well known as the Brooklyn Botanic Garden or those in the Bronx, but they are particularly lovely, tucked away in that part of the park that is so far north that even many of the most ardent park lovers are unaware of their existence.

The Ungreat Washed
July 07, 2003

The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad By Fareed Zakaria (W.W. Norton, 286 pp., $24.95) I. Midway through Fareed Zakaria’s attack on democracy, one realizes that his animus toward popular government is not only theoretical but also personal, and in some ways it is even quite understandable.

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