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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Biography/Autobiography, 2009

Andrew 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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The Trump Of His Time...

Loud-mouthed, pistol-wielding and brash, this anti-establishment president sought to make America great again after the debacle of John Quincy Adams' single term. Much hated--or loved, his wife unfairly maligned, and his own moral character questioned, he reconnected the presidency to the people while asserting his own executive powers freely in order to realize the will of the people. A book for our times.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • DONALD
  • United States
  • 02-22-15

Excellent!!!

John Meacham, as read by Richard McGonagle, is always a winning combination, and hard to top.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Benjamin
  • Nashville, TN, United States
  • 02-19-13

Meacham is always impressive

Would you listen to American Lion again? Why?

No.
Jefferson was so much better in my view.

What was one of the most memorable moments of American Lion?

the fact that the Civil War could have started in Jackson's administration.

What about Richard McGondale’s performance did you like?

I thought he was very good- although not excellent

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

American Lion is the perfect description

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling narrative -Flawed but inspirational man

Jackson is a person I had come to revile. I learned of the Trail of Tears, the duels and all. Yet, he was a figure of inspiration to many. This book is balance and entertaining. It has re-kindled my interest in this phase of American History.

I have read one other book my Jon Meacham, American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation. Though not my favorite author, this book is amazing. it flows well and never bored me.

I hate to be critical of the narration, but Richard McGondale does not entertain me as many others do. This is not to say that the narration is bad. For my ear, he is not as good as others such as Scott Brick.

I highly recommend this book if you are interested in biography and Early American History.

RT

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Victor
  • Pasadena, CA, United States
  • 02-18-10

Read around Jackson

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.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • D. Hile
  • Evans, GA United States
  • 02-17-10

Good Book

I started this book with negative impression of Jackson. While not sugar coating the rough edges the author clearly illustrates his actions and motivations. It was also very interesting to explore the perpetual debate over our form of government and its divisions of power. It shows that there is nothing new under the sun.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting, but depressing

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.

4 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Editorial rather than biography.

Not chronological. lots of opinion. few stories. Not sure what the plot is. jumps about. didn't like it.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not a lot if details about Jackson's whole life

The reading was great. Focus is on the presidency only. if you are looking for a bio on Jackson's whole life this is not for you.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Very, very detailed (and yet still omitted things)

What made the experience of listening to American Lion the most enjoyable?

I am reading/listening to all the presidential bios. Jackson was up and I was very excited to learn more about this man and his times. The amount of detail is off the charts. If you like Jackson, you'll love this book.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

I would like to have seen the author jump to points a little faster and maybe spend less time on some of the ancillary characters that have been lost to history.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No way. I like to spread them out and listen to them on my commute.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful