The locus classicus of European bewilderment with the United States is Alexis de Tocqueville’s seminal study Democracy in America, first published in 1835. Some of the original wonder at the American way of life has never left Europeans. Somehow the English colonies pulled off a societal experiment, which so far Europeans had dreamed of only in complex works of political philosophy or smothered in the bloodshed of failed revolutions. In this new land of milk and honey, commoners could make a...

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