In this thought-provoking collection, leading scholars explore democracy in the United States from a sweeping variety of perspectives. A dozen contributors consider the nature and prospects of democracy as it relates to the American experience-free markets, religion, family life, the Cold War, higher education, and more. These probing essays bring American democracy into fresh focus, complete with its idealism, its moral greatness, its disappointments, and its contradictions. Based on DeVane lectures delivered at Yale University, these writings examine large themes and ask important questions: Why do democratic societies, and the United States in particular, tolerate profound economic inequality? Has the United States ever been truly democratic? How has democratic aspiration influenced the development of practices as diverse as education, religious worship, and family life? With deep insights and lively discussion, the authors expand our understanding of what democracy has meant in the past, how it functions now, and what its course may be in the future.