American Vertigo: Traveling America in the Footsteps of Tocqueville (Paperback)

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What does it mean to be an American, and what can America be today? To answer these questions, celebrated philosopher and journalist Bernard-Henri Levy spent a year traveling throughout the country in the footsteps of another great Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, whose Democracy in America remains the most influential book ever written about our country.
The result is American Vertigo, a fascinating, wholly fresh look at a country we sometimes only think we know. From Rikers Island to Chicago mega-churches, from Muslim communities in Detroit to an Amish enclave in Iowa, Levy investigates issues at the heart of our democracy: the special nature of American patriotism, the coexistence of freedom and religion (including the religion of baseball), the prison system, the return of ideology and the health of our political institutions, and much more. He revisits and updates Tocqueville's most important beliefs, such as the dangers posed by the tyranny of the majority, explores what Europe and America have to learn from each other, and interprets what he sees with a novelist's eye and a philosopher's depth.
Through powerful interview-based portraits across the spectrum of the American people, from prison guards to clergymen, from Norman Mailer to Barack Obama, from Sharon Stone to Richard Holbrooke, Levy fills his book with a tapestry of American voices some wise, some shocking. Both the grandeur and the hellish dimensions of American life are unflinchingly explored. And big themes emerge throughout, from the crucial choices America
faces today to the underlying reality that, unlike the Old World, America remains the fulfillment of the world's desire to worship, earn, and live as one wishes a place, despite all, where inclusion remains not just an ideal but an actual practice.
At a time when Americans are anxious about how the world perceives them and, indeed, keen to make sense of themselves, a brilliant and sympathetic foreign observer has arrived to help us begin a new conversation about the meaning of America.

"From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author


Apres des etudes au lycee Louis-le-Grand, puis a l'Ecole normale superieure ou il est l'eleve de Jacques Derrida et de Louis Althusser, B.-H.Levy enseigne l'epistemologie a l'universite de Strasbourg et la philosophie a l'Ecole normale superieure avant de devenir le chef de file du courant des 'Nouveaux Philosophes'. C'est la parution, en 1977, de 'La Barbarie a visage humain' chez Grasset qui cree le phenomene 'BHL'. Cet essai souleve des debats passionnes en faisant le proces du fascisme aussi bien que celui du marxisme. Editorialiste pour de nombreux journaux (dont Le Point), ecrivain prolifique et engage, Bernard-Henri Levy est accuse d'etre trop mediatique, mais son engagement et sa perseverance sont reconnus. En 2002, Jacques Chirac lui confie notamment la mission de se rendre en Afghanistan pour contribuer a la reconstruction culturelle. En 2006, il publie American Vertigo, ou il rassemble ses impressions et ses pensees a l'issue d'un periple de plusieurs mois aux USA. Descendu en flammes par la presse francaise, le livre est pourtant un succes, y compris aupres des intellectuels americains qui voient en lui des reflexions pertinentes sur leur pays.Pour decouvrir notre dossier sur les adaptations cinematographiques, "De l ecrit a l image", cliquez ici !

CHARLOTTE MANDELL has translated over twenty books, including several books for Fordham: Peter Szendy's "Listen: A History of Our Ears" and Jean-Luc Nancy's "Listening". Her most recent translation is "The Kindly Ones" by Jonathan Littell.

Praise For…


“Bernard-Henry Lévy does nothing that goes unnoticed. He is an intellectual adventurer who brings publicity to unfashionable political causes.”
–The New York Times

Product Details
ISBN: 9780812974713
ISBN-10: 0812974719
Publisher: Random House Trade
Publication Date: April 10th, 2007
Pages: 308
Language: English