If Tocqueville Could See Us Now

In a new book, the political journalist and columnist Richard Reeves retraces Alexis de Tocqueville’s remarkable 1831-32 journey through America. Reeves's conclusion: Tocqueville not only deserves his reputation as the greatest observer of our democracy—he is an incomparable guide to what is happening in our country now.

When AMERICAN HERITAGE heard that Richard Reeves had undertaken to follow the route, one hundred and fifty years later, of a classic exploration of America’s people, places, and institutions, we assigned his friend and colleague Ken Auletta to ask the kinds of questions our readers might if they had the luck to find themselves sitting next to Reeves on a flight to, say, Buffalo or Memphis.Read more »

Two Cheers For Optimism

One man measures his life-span against the length of recorded history and finds tidings of comfort and hope

At the risk of being sneered at as a NeoVictorian, I hereby admit to a nineteenth-century belief that, allowing for daily relapses Land hourly alarms, the world of man is improving. I am not by nature a Panglossian sort but, like the grandparent of a precocious child, I am overwhelmed by a sense of how far my still sprouting human species has come in so short a time. Read more »

The Wealth Of The Nation

The most influential economist in the United States talks about prudence, productivity, and the pursuit of liquidity in the light of the past

TWENTY YEARS AGO , the American economy hummed like a well-oiled machine. We actually exported automobiles and oil. Economists worried about the “dollar gap”—whether the rest of the world would have enough dollars to buy from us—and the inflation rate was one percent. The economists of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson spoke of “fine-tuning” the economy. Today the economy moves only by sputters and spurts. We have idle capacity; interest rates have been in double digits, and recently so has inflation.Read more »

After The Air Raids

An insider’s account of a startling— and still controversial—investigation of the Allied bombing of Germany

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Pursuit: Normandy, 1944

An infantryman remembers how it was

Victory in Europe seemed sure and near for the Western Allies in late summer, 1944, as their armies broke out of a shallow beachhead on the Channel coast of France and rolled, seemingly unstoppable, across Normandy, Brittany, Flanders, on to Paris, and up to the borders of Germany itself. But here, braked by worn-out men and machines and an outrun fuel supply, the advance slowed and halted. The dark winter of the Ardennes followed, and it was spring before Germany was finally reduced to the smoking, starving ruin that constituted defeat. Read more »

From Austerlitz To Moscow

An American Success Story

A dreadful prospect opened up for mankind when Napoleon’s Grande Armée won the battle of Austerlitz and swept on to conquer all of Europe. The enthusiastic multitudes of revolutionary France had placed at Napoleon’s disposal the resources of an entire nation, and he had fashioned from them a mighty new weapon: the mass citizen army, the Grande Armée. War was no longer a game for kings and small hired armies; it had become a cataclysm into which entire nations were hurled.Read more »

Churchill Talks To America

FOR SEVEN DECADES OUR EBULLIENT COUSIN INSTRUCTED US ON EVERYTHING: THE BOERS, PROHIBITION, HITLER, CHARLIE CHAPLIN’S FEET, AND THE COMMON CAUSE OF THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING PEOPLES

As our image of Winston Churchill slides back into history—his hundredth birthday comes next November 30—the fine lines of his portrait begin to fade, and he is remembered by a new generation mainly as the wartime leader who intoned of blood, toil, tears, and sweat and prodded his countrymen to their finest hours.

Through some sixty years Churchill had an auxiliary theme to his main purpose of guiding and preserving the British Empire. That was to involve the United States—the American people—in his grand design. Read more »