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The second volume of Democracy in America by Tocqueville – the bicentenary of whose birth is celebrated this year – is topical and useful for the modern reader. Boudon summarises the two main theses of the work (that the egalitarian sentiment characterises all democratic societies and that evolution towards democracy is an irresistible process), highlighting the positive and negative trends still to be found in modern societies and exalting the often undervalued role that Tocqueville occupies in the history of French political thought.