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OtherWise by Dick Martin

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4Bouillabaisse or Consommé?

The most celebrated tourist to ever visit America was probably a young French aristocrat, Alexis de Tocqueville, who came here in 1831 ostensibly to study America’s prisons.

What resulted was not only a report on penology but Democracy in America, a well-received book that explored what Tocqueville called “American exceptionalism.”

Tocqueville was struck that the American idea of “nationality” was different from Europe’s. It was based less on common history or ethnicity than on common ideals. And those ideals were fairly unique for the time: Americans were distrustful of public authority, self-reliant, inclusive, egalitarian, and democratic. The other belief that Americans shared was the lively expectation that they ...

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