The Long Apprenticeship

American Democracy and the Future of Europe

Prizes are a particular pleasure for people who engage in the peculiar metier of writing books, because they are reassuring. Writing in fact involves a great deal of anxiety both before, during, and after; rewards allow one, at least for a time, to put those anxieties to rest. But my gratitude for your prize has more to it than that, for you are awarding it to someone who has spent his whole life working on the French Revolution, which is, after all, a historical subject far from your shores. By demonstrating the international character of knowledge and the intellectual community, you are also bringing me the special satisfaction of being honored by a country other than my own, and in a city where I have been teaching for 15 years.

America is my home away from home, and I am connected to the extraordinary city of Chicago by a sort of local patriotism. That attachment is more than academic, since it was in Hyde Park that I met my wife. But it is also founded upon the admiration that I have for the quality of the University of Chicago and the many things I share with the little intellectual community that is the Committee on Social Thought. Chicago has thus given me both an intellectual family and a family pure and simple. And now, you are crowning this happy story with your gracious recognition for which I am most grateful.

I have spent the majority of my life as a historian working on the period of the past during which...

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