Alexis de Tocqueville was among the first foreigners to recognize and trumpet the grandness of the American project. His two-volume classic, Democracy in America, published in 1835, offered not only a vivid account of the still young nation but famously predicted what the nation would become, and firmly established his place in U.S. history. Yet in his own time, Tocqueville had little evidence for the truth of his ideas. Introspective, sickly, prone to self-doubt, he was a most unlikely visionary. In wry, elegant prose, Joseph Epstein, America's most versatile essayist, offers an engaging and altogether human portrait of the Frenchman who would become an American icon.