Books: The New World at Middle Age

AMERICAN JOURNEY by Richard Reeves

Simon & Schuster; 399 pages; $15.95

On Dec. 5, 1831, a steamboat got caught in Ohio River ice. The 26-year-old passenger from Paris, Alexis de Tocqueville, dispassionately wrote in his notebook, "Just now the vessel is cracking from poop to prow." There was nothing to do but go ashore, and once there, no way except by walking to reach Louisville, 25 miles away over a snow-covered trail. But Tocqueville had limitless energy and curiosity. As Political Columnist Richard Reeves observes in this book retracing the French aristocrat's nine-month journey...

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