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American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House

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American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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. To tell the saga of Jackson's presidency, acclaimed author Jon Meacham goes inside the Jackson White House. Drawing on newly discovered family letters and papers, he details the human drama — the family, the women, and the inner circle of advisers — that shaped Jackson's private world through years of storm and victory.

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 — from Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt to FDR to Truman — 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.

Review:

"Newsweek editor and bestselling author Meacham (Franklin and Winston) offers a lively take on the seventh president's White House years. We get the Indian fighter and hero of New Orleans facing down South Carolina radicals' efforts to nullify federal laws they found unacceptable, speaking the words of democracy even if his banking and other policies strengthened local oligarchies, and doing nothing to protect southern Indians from their land-hungry white neighbors. For the first time, with Jackson, demagoguery became presidential, and his Democratic Party deepened its identification with Southern slavery. Relying on the huge mound of previous Jackson studies, Meacham can add little to this well-known story, save for the few tidbits he's unearthed in private collections rarely consulted before. What he does bring is a writer's flair and the ability to relate his story without the incrustations of ideology and position taking that often disfigure more scholarly studies of Jackson. Nevertheless, a gifted writer like Meacham might better turn his attention to tales less often told and subjects a bit tougher to enliven. 32 pages of b&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

It was the summer of 1832, and President Andrew Jackson was fleeing the notorious Foggy Bottom humidity for his home in Nashville, Tenn. Somehow he misplaced an important cache of papers along Washington's Post Road; they either dropped from his saddlebag, were stolen by the livery hand or were left behind in a tavern. Writing to his private secretary, Jackson lamented that the missing papers were... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"American Lion, Jon Meacham's carefully analytical biography, looks past the theatrics and posturing to the essential elements of Jackson's many showdowns....Case by case, Mr. Meacham dissects Jackson's battles and reinterprets them in a revealing new light." Janet Maslin, The New York Times

Review:

"Every so often a terrific biography comes along that shines a new light on a familiar figure in American history. So it was with David McCullough's John Adams, so it was with Walter Isaacson's Benjamin Franklin, so it is with Jon Meacham's Andrew Jackson. 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, author of Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

Review:

"Finally, a book that explains our nation's most enigmatic hero....In helping us understand Jackson, Meacham helps us understand America." Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe

Review:

"What passes for political drama today pales in the reading of Jon Meacham's vividly told story of our seventh president. The rip-roaring two-fisted man of the people, duelist, passionate lover, gambler, and war hero was also a prime creator of the presidency as the fulcrum of executive power to defend democracy. Meacham also has the novelist's art of enthralling the general reader much as David McCullough did for the lesser figure of John Adams. Reading American Lion, one is no longer able to look on the gaunt, craggy face on the twenty-dollar bill without hearing the tumult of America in the making." Tina Brown, author of The Diana Chronicles

Review:

"A spellbinding, brilliant, and irresistible journey into the heart of Andrew Jackson and his unforgettable circle of friends and enemies. Meacham's important book shows us how the old hero transformed both the American presidency and the nation he led." Michael Beschloss, author of Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America 1789-1989

Review:

"Meacham offers a fresh portrait of one of the most controversial and consequential men ever to occupy the White House." Sean Wilentz, Princeton University, author of The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln

Review:

"In magnificent prose, enriched by the author's discovery of new research materials, Jon Meacham has written an engrossing and original study of the life of Andrew Jackson....Scrupulously researched and vividly written, this book is certain to attract a large and diverse reading public." Robert V. Remini, National Book Award-winning author of Andrew Jackson: The Course of American Democracy, 1833-1845

Review:

"To say that Jon Meacham has written an important book is an understatement. No book published on Jackson in recent memory is more illuminating about his life, his family, his political ideology, and his religious beliefs." Providence Journal

About the Author

Jon Meacham is the editor of Newsweek and author of American Lion and the New York Times bestsellers Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship and American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation. He lives in New York City with his wife and children.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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OneMansView, August 31, 2009 (view all comments by OneMansView)
A sympathetic view of Jackson, the man and his presidency (3.25*s)

This is a book that is concerned with capturing the personality of Andrew Jackson, his thinking, and the transforming, as well as controversial, nature of his presidency. While the author looks briefly at Jackson’s earlier life as a rake, gambler, lawyer, hothead, successful military commander against the British and the Florida Indians, and politician, it is the White House years from 1829 to 1837 to which most attention is devoted. Jackson was a new breed of president, the first to not have a genteel upbringing. His toughness, fearlessness, and quick temper were legendary. He entered the White House with bullets in his chest and arm from duels/altercations.

Jackson’s election essentially ended the domination of the elites of Virginia and New England of the presidency. Reflective of his strong personality, he was not reluctant to wield independent power, making the audacious claim that he alone, as the President, represented the implicit will of the people. Challenging the assumptions of control of the entrenched bureaucracy and of Congress, Jackson with no hesitation acted to replace a substantial percentage of Federal appointees, vetoed legislation, asked for legislative approval to use force against the South Carolinian nullifiers, removed deposits from the Bank of the United States, and supported an aggressive Indian removal policy.

The author scarcely covers the details and ramifications of those decisions; he wants to show the impact that Jackson had on rivals Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun, among others, as they reacted by routinely castigating him for overstepping his Constitutional authority and accruing power to the presidency. Likewise, Jackson’s controversial view that his actions were essentially legitimated through the nebulous will of the majority goes unexamined. His efforts to manipulate public opinion through his party’s, the Democracy, newspaper, the Globe, were especially deplored.

Beyond the politics of Jackson’s presidency, the author devotes a considerable part of the book to his interactions with his family and friends that accompanied him to Washington. Emily and Andrew Donelson, the niece and nephew of Jackson and married, are prominent in Jackson’s life in the White House. Jackson’s fierce loyalty is evidenced by his support of John Eaton, who fought with him in the War of 1812 and was his nominee for Sec of War, in his marriage to the beautiful, but controversial, Margaret Timberlake Eaton. Washington society would have nothing to do with this allegedly immoral woman, including Emily, yet Jackson cast acceptance of the Eaton’s as indicative of loyalty to his administration.

The book does get bogged down in its detailed capturing of every day life in the White House, what clothes are worn, and who said what to whom. In some ways the book reads like historical fiction, as the author indulgences in reconstructing thoughts and conversations by the various individuals. The trips between Washington and Jackson’s home in Tennessee, The Hermitage, are too frequently recounted. It seems like sickness hangs over the book; of course, in those times, before sound medical practice, that is none too surprising. But this is the side of Jackson’s life that the author wants to present, more so than the events and philosophies of the day.

The author notes that Jackson’s transcendent personality and willingness to stare down adversaries has not been lost on Presidents since, especially Lincoln, the Roosevelt’s, and Truman. It was the sheer strength of Jackson’s personality that permitted him to surpass Congressional initiative. The author is an admirer of Jackson, and accordingly seems to accept that Jackson’s appeals to the will of the people in opposing the interests of the rich represent an enhancement to democracy. A far broader examination of Jackson’s policies and actions than is provided in this book is needed to properly assess his claims of acting in the interest or, more importantly, at the direction of the people. While much is learned about Jackson, his personality, in some ways he remains elusive.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781400063253
Author:
Meacham, Jon
Publisher:
Random House (NY)
Subject:
Presidents & Heads of State
Subject:
Presidents
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Historical - U.S.
Subject:
Presidents -- United States.
Subject:
Jackson, Andrew
Subject:
Biography-Presidents and Heads of State
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20081131
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
2 16-PP B/W PHOTO INSERTS
Pages:
512
Dimensions:
9.38x6.44x1.50 in. 2.00 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » Historical
Biography » Presidents and Heads of State
History and Social Science » US History » 19th Century
History and Social Science » US History » Presidents » Jackson, Andrew
History and Social Science » US History » US Presidency
History and Social Science » World History » General
Metaphysics » General
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Sports and Outdoors » Outdoors » Fishing and Hunting » Fishing » General

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House Used Hardcover
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Product details 512 pages Random House - English 9781400063253 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Newsweek editor and bestselling author Meacham (Franklin and Winston) offers a lively take on the seventh president's White House years. We get the Indian fighter and hero of New Orleans facing down South Carolina radicals' efforts to nullify federal laws they found unacceptable, speaking the words of democracy even if his banking and other policies strengthened local oligarchies, and doing nothing to protect southern Indians from their land-hungry white neighbors. For the first time, with Jackson, demagoguery became presidential, and his Democratic Party deepened its identification with Southern slavery. Relying on the huge mound of previous Jackson studies, Meacham can add little to this well-known story, save for the few tidbits he's unearthed in private collections rarely consulted before. What he does bring is a writer's flair and the ability to relate his story without the incrustations of ideology and position taking that often disfigure more scholarly studies of Jackson. Nevertheless, a gifted writer like Meacham might better turn his attention to tales less often told and subjects a bit tougher to enliven. 32 pages of b&w photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "American Lion, Jon Meacham's carefully analytical biography, looks past the theatrics and posturing to the essential elements of Jackson's many showdowns....Case by case, Mr. Meacham dissects Jackson's battles and reinterprets them in a revealing new light."
"Review" by , "Every so often a terrific biography comes along that shines a new light on a familiar figure in American history. So it was with David McCullough's John Adams, so it was with Walter Isaacson's Benjamin Franklin, so it is with Jon Meacham's Andrew Jackson. A master storyteller, Meacham interweaves the lives of Jackson and the members of his inner circle to create a highly original book."
"Review" by , "Finally, a book that explains our nation's most enigmatic hero....In helping us understand Jackson, Meacham helps us understand America."
"Review" by , "What passes for political drama today pales in the reading of Jon Meacham's vividly told story of our seventh president. The rip-roaring two-fisted man of the people, duelist, passionate lover, gambler, and war hero was also a prime creator of the presidency as the fulcrum of executive power to defend democracy. Meacham also has the novelist's art of enthralling the general reader much as David McCullough did for the lesser figure of John Adams. Reading American Lion, one is no longer able to look on the gaunt, craggy face on the twenty-dollar bill without hearing the tumult of America in the making."
"Review" by , "A spellbinding, brilliant, and irresistible journey into the heart of Andrew Jackson and his unforgettable circle of friends and enemies. Meacham's important book shows us how the old hero transformed both the American presidency and the nation he led." Michael Beschloss, author of Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America 1789-1989
"Review" by , "Meacham offers a fresh portrait of one of the most controversial and consequential men ever to occupy the White House."
"Review" by , "In magnificent prose, enriched by the author's discovery of new research materials, Jon Meacham has written an engrossing and original study of the life of Andrew Jackson....Scrupulously researched and vividly written, this book is certain to attract a large and diverse reading public." Robert V. Remini, National Book Award-winning author of Andrew Jackson: The Course of American Democracy, 1833-1845
"Review" by , "To say that Jon Meacham has written an important book is an understatement. No book published on Jackson in recent memory is more illuminating about his life, his family, his political ideology, and his religious beliefs."
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