With the sweep, passion, and attention to detail that made The First American a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a national best seller, historian H.W. Brands shapes a historical narrative that's as fast-paced and compelling as the best fiction. He follows Andrew Jackson from his days as rebellious youth, risking execution to free the Carolinas of the British during the Revolutionary War, to his years as a young lawyer and congressman from the newly settled frontier state of Tennessee. As general of the Tennessee militia, he put down a massive Indian uprising in the South, securing the safety of American settlers, and his famous rout of the British at the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812 made him a national hero.
But it is Jackson's contributions as president, however, that won him a place in the pantheon of America's greatest leaders. A man of the people, without formal education or the family lineage of the Founding Fathers, he sought as president to make the country a genuine democracy, governed by and for the people. Jackson, although respectful of states' rights, devoted himself to the preservation of the Union, whose future in that age was still very much in question. When South Carolina, his home state, threatened to secede over the issue of slavery, Jackson promised to march down with 100,000 federal soldiers should it dare.
©2005 H.W. Brands; (P)2005 Books on Tape
"Illuminating both the mettle of a fascinating leader and the crucible in which American democracy was forged....[Brands'] effort is intensely engaging....A bracing, human portrait of both a remarkable man and of American democracy as it was transformed from a 'government of the people' into a 'government by the people'." (Publishers Weekly)
"This complete and completely enveloping biography indelibly establishes Jackson's abiding sense of duty in serving democracy....A distinguished treatment certain to be the most authoritative and comprehensive account for some time." (Booklist)
I have always been captivated by Pres. Jackson ever since I saw his domineering presence at the Hall of the Presidents exhibit at Disneyland and Anaheim California in the late 1960s. Also I enjoyed watching him be portrayed by Charlton Heston in the movie back in the 1960s. He was truly a great president that helped shape the country and win the war against the British in 1814 to help with that notion to rest. If you're not very good at geography you will need a map to follow along with this book to understand all the names and places of where he went in what battles he fought and how they all related to his home in Tennessee. The book is an easy lesson that follows the progression of the facts about his life all the way through the presidency.
an up close personal look at an extraordinary man. He started with nothing and became president.
a fighter for states rights, he would be shocked by the scope of the federal government today
The first ordinary man to become president. Dogged by the elitist east, he was a man of the people
Personally, I'd always had a very low opinion of Jackson. The major talking points of his life and career tend to cast him in a pretty poor light. The cocky and brutish youth, the recalcitrant and high handed military chieftain, the uncompromising and nepotistic president - a quick survey of the facts paints the picture of a racist, mean-spirited bully without respect for any authority other than his own.
This biography's main strength is that it tempers a lot of these negative characterizations, and fills in some color between the black and white lines which usually define Old Hickory. Now don't get me wrong - I still view the guy as more or less a jerk by any of today’s standards. But provided with just enough context to the progression of his political career and personal character, the sharp edges are dulled a bit. And in turn, I was surprised to detect something of a popular bias in the things I’d read and heard about Jackson previously. And what is good history but learning to see events from all sides?
The storytelling was decent enough. It was a bit uneven, rambling at times with copious amounts of back story, and leaving some glaring omissions at other times. The telling of the Dickenson duel was extremely well done, probably the best portion of the book. The latter part of Jackson’s life, however, was breezed through without as much detail. There was hardly a mention of Polk, which is a bit odd for a guy who earned the nickname of “young hickory”.
All told, this is the best book Audible has on Jackson, and more than adequately does the job of telling his story.
Brands has written a comprehensive memoir that reveals the character of a person who often placed his life and honor on the line in order to preserve his steadfast democratic beliefs. For any historical fanatic this biography is a winner.
I'd compare it to Ulysses S. Grant by William McFeely
I found his treatment of the Native Americans interesting considering he had adopted two Native American boys.
Because there were some points where the author went into too much needless detail, I would not have been able to listen to it in one sitting.
Brand's biography is a work that spans the entire life of President Jackson. His life is filled with stories by which legends are made, and Brands takes a careful look at all of them, giving detail appropriately to those that are important.
The best part about Brands biography is the format. It is a fine blend of character-driven and plot-driven scenes where all the necessary background information is provided and all the repercussions of the events are included.
Overall, the biography offers an adventurous and at times inspiring tale of a truly democratic President written by an articulate and careful pen. If you are looking for a biography that brings you equally to both character and place, without emphasizing one over the other, this is the one.
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