London: Saunders and Otley, 1837. First edition of Harriet Martineau’s (1802 – 1876) assessment of American society developed during her travels between August 1834 and August 1836. In the ODNB, R.K. Webb writes that, “other than Alexis, comte de Tocqueville’s contemporaneous Democracy in America (1835; trans. 1835–40), [Martineau’s Society in America] be regarded as the best book among the vast outpouring of travel writing on the great transatlantic experiment.”. Some rubbing and darkening to boards. Dustsoiling to top edges. Very clean and fresh throughout. A very good set. Contemporary half dark brown calf over marbled boards. Gilt spines with raised bands. Three volumes, twelvemo. xix, 364; vi, 369; vi, 365 pp. Item #17294
In the introduction to the present work, Martineau states that her goal is to facilitate understanding and communication between the Americans and the British. This is a frank and thorough analysis of American life that evaluates the government, politics, race, women’s rights, the economy, rural life, slavery, religion, and many more topics. R.K. Webb writes that Martineau “had originally intended [Society in America] to promise an explicit discussion of theory and practice, and, partisan and personal though the book is, the acute observation and the high level of generalization transcend a mere travel account to make it a historical document in its own right and a pioneering work of sociological analysis,” (Oxford DNB).
Martineau was a journalist, translator, and a prolific writer on the economy and travel. She wrote Illustrations of Political Economy (1831), Poor Laws and Paupers Illustrated (1833), Illustrations of Taxation (1834), as well as another record of her American travels, Retrospect of Western Travel (1838). Martineau was a highly learned woman and a pioneer in the fields of economics and sociology.