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American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White…
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American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House

by Jon Meacham

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President Jackson is especially relevant with President Trump at the helm. Never underestimate the damage the chief of state can do. ( )
  jefware | Jan 27, 2017 |
I will say that this book humanized Jackson for me, and I thought it was a pretty engaging narrative, especially the first half of the book, dominated as it was by the Eaton scandal. On the other hand, I didn't think Meacham did enough to contextualize Jackson's presidency. He (Meacham) makes a lot of claims about Jackson's vision for the expanded power of the executive, but he says almost nothing about the specific ideological differences with John Quincy Adams (Jackson's opponent in 1824 and again in 1828), and his treatment of the national bank affair is frustratingly cursory. I also thought the epilogue was rather overblown. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
I thought this book was absolutely fascinating. I would have liked more about Jackson's early life--but that wasn't Meacham's project. I would have organized it differently, I think, in a somewhat more structured way, but I really enjoyed it as it was. Andrew and Emily Donelson, in particular, come to life in this book. And really, if you think modern-day politics are petty and messy and ridiculous, read about the Eaton Affair. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
A good book. Meacham focuses on the presidential years of Andrew Jackson, but necessarily delves into Jackson's whole biography to tell the story. So, as a one-volume biography of his life it is okay, for a more complete rendering see the one-volume condensed version of Remini's, but for a focus on the White House years, this book beats Remini's.

Like Remini, Meacham's Jackson is more than the caricature of frontier bumpkin. Many today hold that view and, fortunately for Jackson, so did many Whigs, like Clay, or enemies, like Calhoun. Jackson was temperamental and untutored, but he could also be gentlemanly and tender, and he was a self-taught man with some education like Abraham Lincoln. He made bold and contentious decisions, but usually never rashly.

Good info on the Bank War, the Eaton affair, the Nullification Crisis, Jackson's attitude toward Indians and slaves, etc. Quite good for the scholar of American history and the casual reader of American history. There is enough here to interest both.

Well-researched and well written, with a good bibliography, but with that stupid page-number-note-system that is unwieldy and asinine. Good images. ( )
  tuckerresearch | Sep 28, 2016 |
I started out loving this, but struggled with it after the first part. I was amazed at all the space given to the "petticoat wars." (But glad to know that this went on even then, even worse than today). I was disappointed in the lack of space given to the Indian removals. Also, Emily Donnelson's life was so short, and how tragic that her husband and uncle could not be at her side when she died. That made me really sad, and helped remind me that the public will take and take and take, but family is most important. Who in their right mind would want to be President? ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
“American Lion” is enormously entertaining, especially in the deft descriptions of Jackson’s personality and domestic life in his White House. But Meacham has missed an opportunity to reflect on the nature of American populism as personified by Jackson.
 
Mr. Meacham, the editor of Newsweek, dispenses with the usual view of Jackson as a Tennessee hothead and instead sees a cannily ambitious figure determined to reshape the power of the presidency during his time in office (1829 to 1837). Case by case, Mr. Meacham dissects Jackson’s battles and reinterprets them in a revealing new light.
 
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Epigraph
The darker the night the bolder the sun.
- Theodore Roosevelt,
Life Histories of African Game Animals

I was born for a storm and a calm does not suit me.
- Andrew Jackson
Dedication
To Mary, Maggie, and Sam
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It looked like war.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.
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A thought-provoking study of Andrew Jackson chronicles the life and career of a self-made man who went on to become a military hero and seventh president of the United States, critically analyzing Jackson's seminal role during a turbulent era in history, the political crises and personal upheaval that surrounded him, and his legacy for the modern presidency.… (more)

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