Tocqueville in Arabia succeeds in a task that would have seemed nearly impossible—that of making Tocqueville, who is often pressed into service to comment on contemporary American life, a plausible commentator on the contemporary Middle East. It is stable, and it has virtually no unemployment.
Does democracy need Christianity?
Equally problematic, the students Mitchell offers to help us understand seem atypical to me. It is impossible not to conclude that Mitchell, under the guise of describing his students, sometimes draws cartoon Tocquevillian democrats and aristocrats.
Tocqueville in Arabia ends by arguing that support for liberal arts education in the Middle East is essential. This view may seem quixotic, but Mitchell makes a powerful case that it is the long view—and the right one.
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