For years Harper and Row featured a blurb on the
front cover of George Lawrence's 1966 translation of Alexis de Tocqueville's
classic Democracy in America: "Tocqueville, whose brilliance has always been
granted by academics, is now accessible to readers who don't mind brilliance as
long as it is readable." Apparently, though, it's not been obvious to everyone
that this accessibility has been a good thing. Reviews of a new translation
published last fall by the University of Chicago Press have been overwhelmingly
positive, and largely for the reason that it is more difficult to read.