Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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.)
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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.