Democracy in America: 703 pages read; 0 pages to go.
I set a goal last February to read de Tocqueville's massive tome this year--two pages a day--and yesterday I finally finished it! As you can probably tell, I'm glad to be done. I did learn a lot--especially from the first half of the book, but I have to admit, I found Volume II (basically the entire last half of the book) a bit of a slog. De Tocqueville spends 334 pages examining the affect of democracy and its "principles of equality" on various aspects of society, for both good and bad. Every little aspect of society! I did not find it nearly as interesting or as insightful as Volume I (in which he delineates the beginnings of democracy here in America). My recommendation? Definitely read Volume I of Democracy in America, because it's important and worth your time, but don't bother with Volume II.
If you just want a taste of de Tocqueville's thoughts and observations, here are a few of my favorite quotes from Volume II:
"Society is endangered, not by the great profligacy of a few, but by laxity of morals amongst all."
"The authority of government has not only spread, as we have just seen, throughout the sphere of all existing powers, till that sphere can no longer contain it, but it goes further, and invades the domain heretofore reserved to private independence...it everywhere interferes in private concerns more than it did; it regulates more undertakings...and it gains a firmer footing everyday about, above, and around all private persons, to assist, to advise, and to coerce them."
"...life is passed in the midst of noise and excitement, and men are so engaged in acting that little time remains to them for thinking."For more of de Tocqueville's quotes, check out my Halfway There post.