Pulitzer Prize, Biography/Autobiography, 2009Andrew Jackson, his intimate circle of friends, and his tumultuous times are at the heart of this remarkable book about the man who rose from nothing to create the modern presidency.
Beloved and hated, venerated and reviled, Andrew Jackson was an orphan who fought his way to the pinnacle of power, bending the nation to his will in the cause of democracy. Jackson's election in 1828 ushered in a new and lasting era in which the people, not distant elites, were the guiding force in American politics. Democracy made its stand in the Jackson years, and he gave voice to the hopes and the fears of a restless, changing nation facing challenging times at home and threats abroad.
One of our most significant yet dimly recalled presidents, Jackson was a battle-hardened warrior, the founder of the Democratic Party, and the architect of the presidency as we know it. His story is one of violence, sex, courage, and tragedy. With his powerful persona, his evident bravery, and his mystical connection to the people, Jackson moved the White House from the periphery of government to the center of national action, articulating a vision of change that challenged entrenched interests to heed the popular will or face his formidable wrath. The greatest of the presidents who have followed Jackson in the White House have found inspiration in his example, and virtue in his vision.
Jackson was the most contradictory of men. The architect of the removal of Indians from their native lands, he was warmly sentimental and risked everything to give more power to ordinary citizens. He was, in short, a lot like his country: alternately kind and vicious, brilliant and blind; and a man who fought a lifelong war to keep the republic safe, no matter what it took.
Jon Meacham, in American Lion, has delivered the definitive human portrait of a pivotal president who forever changed the American presidency and America itself.
©2008 Jon Meacham; (P)2008 Random House
"A master storyteller, Meacham interweaves the lives of Jackson and the members of his inner circle to create a highly original book." (Doris Kearns Goodwin)
"American Lion is a spellbinding, brilliant and irresistible journey into the heart of Andrew Jackson and his unforgettable circle of friends and enemies." (Michael Beschloss)
"What passes for political drama today pales in the reading of Jon Meacham's vividly told story of our seventh president....Reading "American Lion" one is no longer able to look on the gaunt, craggy face on the $20 bill without hearing the tumult of America in the making." (Tina Brown)
A great overall portrait of the man Jackson. Meacham tells a great story about the inter-workings of Jackson rise to power and his immense impact on the the Presidency itself that I had no idea about. Jackson was neither a tyrant or a saint but a man who loved the country and its people more than almost anything. We need more men like him today.
I would have liked more inspired writing making parallels to modern society and politics.
Jackson. Loved McGonagles voice I will be listening to more of his work.
Great idea! no idea
Favorite new word learned, Despot! Such a great and funny use of the word in the book. God save us from despotic people in the white house currently and any to come. "Vigilance is the eternal price of Liberty"
I actually cried when it was over. What a misunderstood person and what a great man. Not everything is black and white. A good man can do bad things and vice versa. In the end, measure the good against the bad. Andrew Jackson
comes out in the same league as Lincoln & Washington.
I enjoy non fiction almost exclusively and especially love the history of Rome, the conquest of the Americas, and early American history from the founding of the earliest colonial settlements to the Antebellum rise of the United States.
This is a great story of a man full of contradictions. The story of his rise to general and then to the presidency of the United States is nearly American myth. This book focuses on the White House years and other reviewers have found fault with this limitation. Jackson is a complex figure and this is a great introduction to the many facets of the man and the men and women that surrounded him. Very little time is spent on his role in the war of 1812. This story includes some of the people who helped Jackson gain the presidency and also those who thought his 'monarchy' would bring down the United States. He expanded the powers of the presidency, fought to remove native peoples from their lands, kept the union together, survived assassination attempts and duels, facilitated the expansion and acquisition of more territory, and destroyed the bank of the United States, and this book shares all of this with a great narrator and an engaging story. Enjoy.
A history such as this, in particular a biography, should be "his story". I began this book with very little knowledge of this period of American history. Now I have a greater understanding of Jackson's contribution to American government. But I would have preferred the book to have been written as a story rather than a recitation of dates times places and people.
Jackson did so many great things but he also did so many horrible things. He brought tremendous power to the Presidency which lead to many positives as America became larger but also did many horrible things to the native population and was part of the beginning of the end for Gentlemanly elections in the US.
Overall, a great book and should be required reading for anyone interested in the American Presidency!
This book sounds like it was written by a gossip columnist. I realize it was written by a fine historian, but in dealing with Andrew Jackson, he didn't have much other material to work with.
When Jackson became President, the era of the Founding Fathers was over, and our modern political system was born. If this had been its purpose, the book could have been much shorter - and for me, more interesting.
Jackson, to use his words, was a man of the people - of the political mass, which he identified with completely. The American frontiersmen were just that - crude and greedy - as they made clear by their treatment of the Indians.
This could probably be made into a movie, with the most salacious parts emphasized. The jealousies of the women would provide some interesting character studies, much like a soap opera - which it resembles.
This was very dissapointing. It felt as if the author was trying not to write about Jackson as he would give you a tiny bit of info about Jackson and then go on and on about how Jackson's friend and family reacted. Ugh.
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