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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
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 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

  • Overall
    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

  • Overall
    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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    5 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

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Russell
  • Chester, MD, United States
  • 03-18-16

Worst Narrator Ever

This was a brilliant work by Jon Meacham, but it was everything I could do to listen to it through to the end. This narrator definitely needs to find a better line of work. Terrible!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Lion indeed!

What did you like best about American Lion? What did you like least?

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.

Would you recommend American Lion to your friends? Why or why not?

Fore sure.

Which character – as performed by Richard McGonagle – was your favorite?

Jackson. Loved McGonagles voice I will be listening to more of his work.

Could you see American Lion being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

Great idea! no idea

Any additional comments?

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"

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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

Best presidential bio yet

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.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful