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 came into the book not knowing anything about Andrew Jackson. Now I feel like I lived along side him. The book is very thorough and the narrator is excellent. The story line kept me interest even through the political debates.
The author seems to go off on tangents while the reader wonders why. Then, all the information is nicely woven together.
I knew almost nothing about Jackson when I started this book except that he had been President and had something to do with New Orleans and Florida. Now I can almost picture him, calling for duels at the drop of a hat, training his horses, playing with his adopted son (and a baby lamb), urging on his troops, who returned his pride in them with fierce loyalty, sticking to his principles at the repeated risk of his career, and having arguably as much effect on the course of America's history as any of the Founders did. In telling Jackson's story, H.W. Brands also tells the story of his era, which was as noble, bellicose and preoccupied with principle as he was: shaped by war with Spain, Britain and American Indians, political friction between Federalists and Republicans, and the remorseless westward push that eventually stretched America from sea to shining sea. John H Mayer's narration is a treat, and does full justice to Brands' artfully structured yet utterly natural-sounding prose.
I enjoyed this book as much or more than Truman, John Adams, and 1776. It was much better than Alexander Hamilton. It gave an appropriate amount of time to surrounding historical perspective. The narration was a little less than 4 but acceptable. The book maintained my interest from the very beginning to the end. One small drawback was that the author glossed over Jackson's character flaws such as a hair-trigger temper and "my way or the highway" attitude. I enjoyed the book but came away liking Jackson much less as a person and President.
I've been rediscovering American History after flitting through the topic in my childhood. Naturally, my attention tended to focus initially on the Revolutionary period and the Civil War as these events tend to overshadow others. This book goes a long way towards defining and clarifying the period between these two general periods. If one reads a book on Revolutionary America then opens a book about the Civil War, a lot of questions might spring to mind: How did Florida get into the union? And Texas? What was the War of 1812 about? Who were the Whigs? Where did these political parties come from? All of these are addressed to some extent in this book as Andrew Jackson figured large in relation to most of them. Highly recommended both for content and the narrator has a good pace and tone. He style is almost grandfatherly and works well with the material.
If you have any interest in American History this is a must read. I learned more about American History than all my years of High School and College combined.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
I have read several biographies about Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) over the years. Jackson was such a controversial and complex man that I thought I would read this new biography by historian H. W. Brands.
Jackson was born into poverty and orphaned at an early age; Jackson was a fighter since he was a preteen. Jackson’s courage under fire was an inspiration to those who fought under him, particularly at the Battle of New Orleans. When Jackson was elected to the presidency he had less education than the prior six presidents and many considered he had less manners also. Jackson received a sporadic education. He read the law for two years and became a lawyer in Tennessee. His legal education was scanty but he knew enough to be a country lawyer on the frontier.
Brands states that Jackson was the first man elected from Tennessee to the House of Representatives. He served briefly in the Senate. Jackson had been active in forming the state of Tennessee; he helped write the State’s constitution and he gave the State its name after the Indians in the area. The author tells about Jackson’s time as a circuit Judge and head of the Tennessee Militia where he was elected Major General.
The author does a wonderful job explaining political concepts that easily could be dull. Jackson’s military success coupled with his love for American augured well in his political aspiration. He was called “the man of the people.” Jackson was the first president to be elect by the popular vote. Jackson was the first president to invite the public to attend the White House ball honoring his first inauguration. Brands makes Jackson come to life with a combination of action-packed heroics and an easy to read style. The author points out that Jackson vetoed more bills than all six of his predecessors combined, the sort of trivia information that I love.
Brands meticulously revels Jackson’s life, his ugly massacres of Indians as well as his triumphs, with unflinching detail. The author shows the brass-knuckles politics of Jackson time. Brands discusses Jackson’s belief that the common man should elect and have a direct voice in government. He was the founder of the Democratic Party. The newsmen and his enemies called him a jackass so he took that as the symbol of his Democratic Party. The book is well written and meticulously researched, it is also unbiased. Brands is a professor of history at the University of Texas, Austin. The book is narrated by John H. Mayer.
Husband, father, building contractor, inventor and audio book lover.
This book covers a momentous and disturbing time in our history. The man, Jackson, was a product of his time and if we judge him by our morals based on today's realities, he will be found wanting. Mr. Brands does a good job of putting the listener into the shoes of the subjects and gives us the context with which to judge these the formers and shapers of our nation and national personality. One can never excuse our treatment of the aboriginals of this land, and yet, based on the nature of the world at that time, one cannot escape the inevitability of what happened. I feel I know a lot more about our natures, today and back then, for having spent the time in this book. The narration is sharp and clean. Mr. Mayer does a fine job with this book. I highly recommend it.
Brands has written -- and Mayer ably narrated -- a wonderfully rich account of both the life of Andrew Jackson and the turbulent transition to "democracy" in the United States. Listening to Brands' words, 175 years after the facts, one can only marvel at how little the political culture has changed, but also at how much one man accomplished, despite his humble beginnings, and lifelong struggles with physical infirmities. Those who wring their hands over the "bitterness" and "divisiveness" of contemporary politics can take heart--it was easily as bad or worse in Jackson's era, as Brands details over issues ranging from slavery to the chartering of a central bank. Jackson's personal journey is an uplifting account of what one deeply-principled person can accomplish, even if some of the principles are considered by some to be flawed.
I have long sought historical writings that fulfill the desire I have for knowledge and understanding. In the research and expository of HW Brands Andrew Jackson has come to life. He is fierce and magnanimous. He is a definitive example of our American Spirit. Brands delves deep into the life of Jackson and leaves you with a scent and taste of life in America during his lifetime. You feel you are a part of the scenery of his life. Brands does a masterful job of bringing Jackson to life. His approach does not involve political correctness, nor is it politically flavored. It is an honest assessment of a man who experienced a life of suffering with magnificent discipline. You will not find this volume written with a bias. It is a work of integrity.
Another well written book from this author. He effectively elaborates on the issues Jackson faced in the field as a commander and as a politician. Some readers may not be so keen to hear about the war of 1812 and the frontier conflicts, although seems mostly accurate.
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