Over the Rainbow: They’ve All Come to Look for America


When Alexis de Tocqueville toured the United States in 1831, the country had 24 states. Slavery was still legal across the South. Women could not vote. Still, the musings and predictions in his Democracy in America proved prescient enough that the work remains a staple of liberal-arts curricula, and the right and left have borrowed his words (however apocryphal) to justify much political blathering. Tocqueville foresaw that America would someday control half the world (and Russia the other half), but couldn’t have envisioned the hegemony of today’s superpower. So in steps another quotable Frenchman, Bernard-Henri Lévy—BHL, as he is known in the Hexagone—who spent 2005 figuratively retracing Tocqueville’s steps for American Vertigo, a look at the state of U.S. democracy in the time of freedom fries. BHL will share insights into the state of the American dream and the changing role of the U.S. in world affairs with another European heavy hitter, New Yorker revamper Tina Brown, perhaps proving the wisdom behind another Tocquevillism: “Only strangers or experience may be able to bring certain truths to the Americans’ attention.”