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Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times by H. W.…
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Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times

by H. W. Brands

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Excellent, almost ideal, historical biography. The author manages to give all the background material that is necessary, without compromising reader's interest in the character of Andrew Jackson. Very few biographers manage to do that. Of course, interesting times and interesting characters help. ( )
  everfresh1 | May 9, 2014 |
A wonderfully written and very readable biography. Andrew Jackson is definately one of my favorites so far! Very fascinating man! ( )
  briannad84 | Feb 12, 2013 |
per WashPost 10/9/05
  namfos | Sep 8, 2011 |
As a reader of presidential biographies, frontiersmen biographies, and a student of early American history in general, I found this book great. I like bio's in general, and this book is a nice start to finish Andrew Jackson book. Mr. Brands does an excellent job at making a 650+ page book a real page turner. Some aspects I feel could have been covered a little more, but all in all a job well done, and none of the 650 pages are wasted. Because I have pretty terrible eyesight at just 30 years old ( and I refuse to get glasses, yet! ) I try to purchase large print, and Random House LP is excellent. 860 + pages and worth every turn!

A few things left me wishing they were covered a little more in depth, but not many. Of those things that I needed or wanted more info on were all covered in the second and third books on A.J. that I have since read. No one I have loaned the book to has not enjoyed it throughly, and I'm sure you will as well.

Full of anecdotal phases, some light humor between frontier heavyweights, a chance to see the softer side of such a hard man, and very graceful with it's presentation of timeline, merit reading on their own. ( )
  Jiggarelli | Nov 28, 2010 |
Andrew Jackson was a destitute frontier orphan at the age of 14, an Indian fighter, reluctant politician, enthusiastic and hugely successful general, and two-term President late in life during the tumultuous 1830s, when the boundaries between Texas and Mexico were in flux and Texas declared independence. He was also a farmer, slave holder, dedicated duelist, loyal husband, father of an adopted son and of several foster Indian children, and devoted to preserving and expanding the Union against foreign incursions and internal strife. He was an errand boy during the Revolution yet lived long enough to be photographed. He believed that the people (i.e., white males) were able to make the best decisions for themselves, an issue which divided early leaders, many of whom thought the uneducated were not knowledgeable enough to make informed decisions. (I can't imagine what he and other leaders would make of the ability of today's talk media to sway the masses.) When Jackson died, arguments over states' rights and the issue of slavery in new states was heating up towards what astute observers realized would be a war. Jackson feared for the future of the Union, not foreseeing a Lincoln to save it.

Brands' book is quite long (650+ pages) and seemed to take me forever to read it, but none of it is wasted space. Jackson is used to link our earliest history as a nation and the war that almost tore us apart, and Brands does a good job of explaining how important Jackson was in simultaneously expanding and protecting our borders and encouraging some policies, such as slavery, which led to the Civil War. Jackson could be brutal, especially in his treatment of Indians, whom he felt should get out of the way of the conquerors or face extinction. He seemed to feel badly about the possibility of wiping them out, but he felt they were responsible for their own safety and should stay out of the way of the settlers, whom he didn't expect to take the high road. (Isn't this the argument made by apologists in societies that keep women hidden away: the dominant group can't be trusted so rather than police them, the powerless group should in effect be punished?)

The book is very readable, with a good mix of anecdotes, discussion of policy and politics, and quotes from letters and documents. There were some topics which could have been treated in more depth, and I'd have liked to hear more of what happened to the various native children Jackson fostered (one apparently died of TB at the age of 16, but that isn't mentioned). But Jackson was an important participant in so many pivotal events that to do them all justice would have been impossible without a multi-volume treatment. Extensive source notes and a bibliography provide ideas for expanded reading. In the Kindle edition there was no index (although Kindle searching is much more comprehensive than with a print index), and I don't know if there is an index in the print volume. Highly recommended. ( )
  auntmarge64 | Mar 10, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385507380, Hardcover)

The extraordinary story of Andrew Jackson—the colorful, dynamic, and forceful president who ushered in the Age of Democracy and set a still young America on its path to greatness—told by the bestselling author of The First American.

The most famous American of his time, Andrew Jackson is a seminal figure in American history. The first “common man” to rise to the presidency, Jackson embodied the spirit and the vision of the emerging American nation; the term “Jacksonian democracy” is embedded in our national lexicon.

With the sweep, passion, and attention to detail that made The First American a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a national bestseller, historian H.W. Brands shapes a historical narrative that’s as fast-paced and compelling as the best fiction. He follows Andrew Jackson from his days as rebellious youth, risking execution to free the Carolinas of the British during the Revolutionary War, to his years as a young lawyer and congressman from the newly settled frontier state of Tennessee. As general of the Tennessee militia, he put down a massive Indian uprising in the South, securing the safety of American settlers, and his famous rout of the British at the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812 made him a national hero.

But it is Jackson’s contributions as president, however, that won him a place in the pantheon of America’s greatest leaders. A man of the people, without formal education or the family lineage of the Founding Fathers, he sought as president to make the country a genuine democracy, governed by and for the people. Jackson, although respectful of states’ rights, devoted himself to the preservation of the Union, whose future in that age was still very much in question. When South Carolina, his home state, threatened to secede over the issue of slavery, Jackson promised to march down with 100,000 federal soldiers should it dare.

In the bestselling tradition of Founding Brothers and His Excellency by Joseph Ellis and of John Adams by David McCullough, Andrew Jackson is the first single-volume, full-length biography of Jackson in decades. This magisterial portrait of one of our greatest leaders promises to reshape our understanding of both the man and his era and is sure to be greeted with enthusiasm and acclaim.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:16 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The first "common man" to rise to the presidency, Jackson embodied the spirit and the vision of the emerging American nation; the term "Jacksonian democracy" is embedded in our national lexicon. Historian Brands follows Jackson from his days as rebellious youth, risking execution to free the Carolinas during the Revolutionary War, to his years as a young lawyer and congressman from the newly settled frontier state of Tennessee. As general of the Tennessee militia, his famous rout of the British at the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812 made him a national hero. But it is Jackson's presidency that won him a place among America's greatest leaders. A man of the people, he sought to make the country a genuine democracy, governed by and for the people. Although respectful of states' rights, when his home state threatened to secede, he promised to march down with 100,000 federal soldiers should it dare.--From publisher description.… (more)

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