Magazine March 20, 2017, Issue

Tocqueville and the Art of Living

(Portrait of Alexis de Tocqueville via Wikimedia)
The Art of Being Free: How Alexis de Tocqueville Can Save Us from Ourselves, by James Poulos (St. Martin’s, 304 pp., $26.99)

James Poulos wants you to consider how to be, freely, with the help of Alexis de Tocqueville. Not how to become “free”; he suggests, instead, thinking in terms of adverbs: how you and your neighbors are and how we all might be. Most of us are not doing so well at being, and only practicing the art of freedom can ameliorate what he calls the “constitutive craziness” of American life.

The book is not, despite its subtitle, a self-help book or a how-to manual. On the contrary, Poulos thinks the American obsession with the “self,” with “performing our autonomy,” is a

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In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners

City Desk

A City of Shopkeepers

The city is full of walk-in businesses — shops, stores, eateries, bars, banks, fix-it places. That means the streets are full of business names. Many belong to chains — Victoria’s ...


Politics & Policy


Pain and Punishment Psychiatrist Sally Satel’s piece “Treating Opioid Addiction” (March 6) favors “benign paternalism” in public policy regarding what some have hysterically called an “epidemic” but Dr. Satel more soberly ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ We’re told the envelope given to Warren Beatty actually contained Nate Silver’s projection. ‐ To replace Michael Flynn as national-security adviser, Donald Trump selected someone uniquely suited for the position. ...
Politics & Policy


GLOUCESTER Lizard-voiced, the seagull, esurient And flush with light, cuts through sapphire and salt Waves, to gratify pure appetite. Granite endures like graves. Briars bloom. On planks and shelves, books dock like sailing ships And wait ...


The Latest

The Wuhan Lab Cover-Up

The Wuhan Lab Cover-Up

It's now certain that the U.S. government misled the public about the kind of research that the U.S. taxpayers were indirectly funding in China.