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What Tocqueville and his friend really did on their travels

In Tocqueville’s Discovery of America, Leo Damrosch, who teaches literature at Harvard, has seized an opportune moment to scratch the polished surface and explore what lay behind the oracular pronouncements. At a time when generalizations about the American soul seem risky at best, it is somehow reassuring to learn that even the great Tocqueville was often winging it—and that some of his direst fears have not come to pass…

Read on from Slate

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