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His book on American political life, published in two volumes between 1835 and 1840, was not to be read as a travelogue, he warned his readers. But besides being an aristocrat, liberal theorist and politician, he was also a perennial traveller – something that involved no little risk, both because of the greater inconvenience and danger of travel during his lifetime, and his own fragile health, which frequently cut short his trips and finally cut short his life in 1859 at just 53.

Tocqueville’s peregrinations form the subject of Jeremy Jennings’ new book, Travels with Tocqueville Beyond America – which, despite its title, devotes considerable attention to the famous trip to America, while delving also into less well-known voyages to Germany, Switzerland and Ireland, among other countries. The book’s objective is to “take Tocqueville seriously as a traveller”, which involves dissenting from the view of Tocqueville’s critics, who argue – according to Jennings – that the Frenchman “learned nothing from his travels and was more interested in mixing with the social elites of the country he was visiting”.