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Publisher's Summary

Jacksonland is the thrilling narrative history of two men - President Andrew Jackson and Cherokee chief John Ross - who led their respective nations at a crossroads of American history. Five decades after the Revolutionary War, the United States approached a constitutional crisis. At its center stood two former military comrades locked in a struggle that tested the boundaries of our fledgling democracy. Jacksonland is their story.

One man we recognize: Andrew Jackson - war hero, populist, and exemplar of the expanding South - whose first major initiative as president instigated the massive expulsion of Native Americans known as the Trail of Tears. The other is a half-forgotten figure: John Ross - a mixed-race Cherokee politician and diplomat - who used the United States' own legal system and democratic ideals to oppose Jackson. Representing one of the Five Civilized Tribes who had adopted the ways of white settlers - cultivating farms, publishing a newspaper in their own language, and sending children to school - Ross championed the tribes' cause all the way to the Supreme Court. He gained allies like Senator Henry Clay, Chief Justice John Marshall, and even Davy Crockett. In a fight that seems at once distant and familiar, Ross and his allies made their case in the media, committed civil disobedience, and benefited from the first mass political action by American women. Their struggle contained ominous overtures of later events like the Civil War and set the pattern for modern-day politics.

At stake in this struggle was the land of the Five Civilized Tribes. In shocking detail Jacksonland reveals how Jackson, as a general, extracted immense wealth from his own armies' conquest of native lands. Later, as president, Jackson set in motion the seizure of tens of millions of acres - "Jacksonland" - in today's Deep South.

©2015 Steve Inskeep (P)2015 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Steve Inskeep has found an illuminating and provocative way to talk about the American past - and, truth be told, the American present and future too. By taking us back to the epic struggle between Andrew Jackson and Chief John Ross, Inskeep tells an essential story of geography, greed, and power: and the forces he so clearly delineates are the ones that shape us still." (Jon Meacham, author of American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House)
"Inskeep tells this, one of the most tragic and transformative stories in American history, in swift, confident, colorful strokes. So well, and so intimately, does he know his subject that the reader comes away feeling as if Jackson and Ross' epic struggle for the future of their nations took place yesterday rather than nearly 200 years ago." (Candice Millard, author of Destiny of the Republic and The River of Doubt)
"This narrative of the forced removal of Cherokee Indians from their ancient homeland in the 1830s is framed as a contest between two determined and stubborn adversaries who had once been allies. President Andrew Jackson eventually prevailed over Cherokee chief John Ross in a conflict that culminated in the infamous Trail of Tears. Steve Inskeep skillfully captures the poignant drama of this tragic tale." (James McPherson, author of Embattled Rebel and Battle Cry of Freedom)
"As an NPR journalist, Steve Inskeep must craft stories in a way that allows listeners to see his subjects in their minds. In addition, when he delivers each story on the air, he has to be able to carry it along in a way that keeps listeners from tuning out. He brings both of these skills to bear in his history of Andrew Jackson's land acquisition..." (AudioFile)

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Truth well told

That the truth be told about the removal of the Cherokee and other native tribes from their ancient lands on the American continent is a noble goal of those of us left here after so much strife, struggle and conflict. I felt like I was walking a trail of tears as the author so deftly and authentically led the reader on this journey describing the path chosen by so many great men and women to stand up for what is right and just against the prevailing powers of the age. I cannot look at a $20 bill the same way ever again. Eventually we see men as they truly are when the truth is well told.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic and Thoughtful

I am half Cherokee (with some Choctaw) and grew up knowing that Andrew Jackson was our historical nemesis and that my g.g.g. grandparents had been removed to our rez in Tahlequah OK. This book gave me so much greater insight and complicated my understanding of Jackson, Ross, and my own ancestors. I loved getting to listen to one of my favorite NPR voices as well-made an already fascinating and enraging story all the more engaging.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A compelling retailing of the Indian Removal and Forces behind it.

As a Oklahoman and Cherokee Citizen, at first I was not interested in one more story about the suffering of the sad American Indian. However, I feel the book told a fascinating story of the long intertwined lives of Ross, Ridge, and Jackson. The Native Americans in this story are Statesman and astute political adversaries to the land hunger Jackson and Southern White Americans. Even though you know how it ends, it is compelling to read how close Cherokees came to thwarting the Indian removal act.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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We are still here - a story of persistance

A fascinating view of american expansionism and the relations with the indian citizens.
There is tragedy, but in the end, as a descendant notes, we must not forget those who made it. And celebrate that part of history too.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Engaging and Compelling

Steve Inskeep, yeah, the guy from NPR's Morning Edition, does a great job telling the paralell stories of President Andrew Jackson and John Ross, the leader of the Cherokees. The narrative is a bit thin in the beginning but as the story gets more complex, Inskeep does a fantastic job laying out this time period. He does a wonderful job of detailing the importance of some minor figures who had great impact. He also does not make any 21st century judgements on the key players and leaves that up to the listener to parse. Its a great book if you want a broad introduction into this time period in the country and made me want to know more about John Ross and Major Ridge. Finally, anyone that reads this should feel fine about about Andrew Jackson being removed from the $20 bill. Its something that is long overdue.

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A Fine Light on young America

What made the experience of listening to Jacksonland the most enjoyable?

It had an adoration that elevated the whole subject. Indians as well early Americans were treated humanely. Some of the history was brutal, but Steve Inskeep navigated it deftly.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Jacksonland?

Lots of curious elements made for interesting listening. Jackson leading Cherokee volunteers was pretty incredible.

Which scene was your favorite?

I was drawn to politics, and Jackson and Henry Clay.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No, and a map may have helped me. I kept thinking of Lenard Skynard and Muscle Shoals.

Any additional comments?

I may have more empathy for the South after this.

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  • Jesus
  • Mercedes, TX, USA
  • 05-31-17

And I thought Jefferson was bad

I new that Jackson " acquired" land for the United States. but I had no idea how ruthless this man could be.

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Excellent Historic Research, Engaging

What did you love best about Jacksonland?

The author/reader has a superb voice, and wrote in a most-engaging manner. The story is horrific, and sad, but deserves to be known. The author has done us all a great service in putting together the story and presenting it in a way that the listener will find simply draws him/her in to keep listening until the story is completed. This is history that should be well-known to all residents ot North America, especially white American citizens. Thank you, Mr. Inskeep for this valuable public service!

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Excellent!

Where does Jacksonland rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

The top!

What did you like best about this story?

Insight into other reasons for removal of the 5 Civilized tribes in the 1800's. I always thought it was about gold. I was about greed for land, back going back to the first treaty. It was so educational.

What didn’t you like about Steve Inskeep’s performance?

Nothing

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

No. I listened to it as I drove.

Any additional comments?

More people need to hear this story. It would give people a new perspective on the history of this country and the attempted genocide of the original peoples of this country.

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History

Eye opening and sometimes a difficult truth in the story. Narration by the author was easy to listen to and one of my preferred ways to hear an audio book.