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American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House [Kindle Edition]

Jon Meacham
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (331 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $18.00
Kindle Price: $11.84
You Save: $6.16 (34%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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. (Nov. 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

It's no surprise that the editor of Newsweek can write a well-researched, well-written, and entertaining book on American history. What stands out about reviews of American Lion, however, is how often critics—even professional historians—said they learned something new about the seventh president. A few reviewers were not so impressed with Meacham's scholarly synthesis, especially regarding Jackson's unwavering approval of slavery, his removal of Native Americans despite the objections of the Supreme Court, and his vindictive qualities. But even these reviewers praised Meacham's ability to tell Jackson's story without resorting to the cliches of high school history textbooks.
Copyright 2009 Bookmarks Publishing LLC

Product Details

  • File Size: 10951 KB
  • Print Length: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (November 11, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001FA0JSM
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,058 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
183 of 201 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed But Interesting January 18, 2009
Format:Hardcover
As he says, Meacham has "attempted to paint a biographical portrait of Jackson and of many... who lived and worked with him in his tumultuous years in power." The book concentrates almost entirely on the presidential years, with only enough on Jackson's earlier career to give the reader some idea of the man's personality, of how he rose to prominence and of his political views. Meacham provides an equally short coda on Jackson's post-presidential years until his death (1845). The book is not a "life and times" but is centered on Jackson's experiences in his political battles. The politics are Meacham's chief concern because he believes that Jackson's presidency transformed American political culture.

Jackson was the first president who was not from the pre-Revolutionary elite and was the first to be voted into office by a newly expanded electorate. Meacham views Jackson as the first to see the president as representing the entirety of the people and as the equal of Congress, entitled to shape policy and legislation without the traditional deference to Congressional views. Jackson thought that the people shared his beliefs and that he was fighting for their interests in everything he did. This vision sustained Jackson as he relentlessly expanded the powers of the president. Meacham believes that Jackson was a master politician who happily allowed opponents to think that he was entirely a creature of emotion and passion while coolly outmaneuvering them politically.
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98 of 108 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive, with feeling December 8, 2008
Format:Hardcover
Andrew Jackson is one of those presidents who stands out in our history but for many people, we're not exactly sure why. Jon Meacham, in his excellent new book "American Lion", tells us why. Not only do we get a clearer picture of the contributions of our seventh president but Meacham goes very much inside Jackson, the man, and it's a fascinating portrait.

Most of us remember Andrew Jackson as a hero of the Battle of New Orleans, at the close of the war of 1812. But Jackson as president really changed the course of the executive. He was the first of what we might call today an "imperial president" (or at least his critics of the day would have called him that...or worse) but Jackson rejected the notion that Congress had the more powerful lock on government. The great issues of the 1820s and 1830s all found their way to Jackson's office. His main idea that "nation first" was everything served him well in his executive battles. Jackson fought for the elimination of the Bank of the United States and slew the mighty dragon running it, Nicholas Biddle. Nullification, a notion that states had the right to ignore federal laws if they saw fit, was championed by South Carolina's John C. Calhoun, at once Jackson's first vice-president and later a senator from that state. Indian removal was paramount in Jackson's mind and while he succeeded to a degree, it wasn't without much bloodshed, leaving a stain on his presidency. But the most fascinating part of the Jackson presidency was the impending strife of secession and the issue of slavery. We tend not to think about those two issues arising until a decade or more after Jackson left the White House, but they were primary concerns a generation before war broke out.
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51 of 60 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Journey of a Fascinating Man November 19, 2008
Format:Hardcover
As I write this review, I can peer over to the two shelves of books that I have just on one president alone; that being Abraham Lincoln. With the 200th anniversary of his birthday coming up next year, so many books have been focused on him, his legacy, his marriage, and even his time as president-elect. So it was with great surprise that I found this biography of Andrew Jackson. And it was an even greater surprise that I found it enchanting.

Jon Meacham's Andrew Jackson is rough, brilliant, difficult, and all together human. Meacham's writing attempts to avoid deifying the man, but tries to give insightful glimpses into his character and presidency. Sometimes biographies like this get bogged down in too many details and the minute factoids that only the most ardent fans find remotely interesting. Meacham paints a bigger portrait than that. By focusing mainly on Jackson's time in the presidency, it frees him up for a more specific yet more encompassing vision of Jackson.

I admit that my basic content knowledge of Jackson is sorely lacking (well, compare to Lincoln, that is) but after reading Meacham's page-turner of a book, I must admit my appetite has been whetted by yet another interesting character in our history. I can see this making a great Christmas gift for the history buff or biography lover in your life!
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich, gracefully written biography December 15, 2008
Format:Hardcover
I've always had something of an affinity for Andrew Jackson. Perhaps it's nothing more than the fact that we share a birthday (March 15th). Or maybe it's because he's generally regarded as one of the progenitors of the modern Democratic Party, of which I've been a member for almost 40 years. But now, after reading Newsweek editor Jon Meacham's rich, gracefully written biography of our seventh president, I've discovered new reasons to admire this colorful and controversial leader for the decisive role he played in shaping the modern presidency in the midst of a turbulent period of American history.

Drawing upon a diverse and impressive array of sources, including letters in private hands for 175 years, Meacham (like Jackson a Tennessean) paints what he describes as "not a history of the Age of Jackson but a portrait of the man and of his complex relationships with the intimate circle that surrounded him as he transformed the presidency." Born in humble circumstances and orphaned by the age of 14, Jackson rose to the pinnacle of power amidst the rude environment of the American frontier. He killed a man in a duel and was a ruthless military leader, whose victory over the British at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 catapulted him to national prominence. After winning a plurality of the popular vote and then losing the 1824 election to John Quincy Adams in the House of Representatives, Jackson captured a decisive 56 percent majority in 1828.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pulitzer Prize winner !
"American Lion" is a Pulitzer Prize winning bio of Andrew Jackson's two terms in the White House. Read more
Published 9 hours ago by Kenneth C. Mahieu
4.0 out of 5 stars A leader for the time
Great perspective is Jackson's rise to power. He was the first non-aristocrat to become president. A fine example of leadership based on a moral compass - a lost characteristic of... Read more
Published 12 days ago by Rick Kost
4.0 out of 5 stars Also makes me realize how much I disliked this man
Interesting book. Shows how too much power corrupts. Also makes me realize how much I disliked this man, particularly for what he did to the Indians in the South East corner of the... Read more
Published 16 days ago by Gerry
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good and concise work on Jackson's White House years meant for...
This book by Jon Meachum covers the years Andrew Jackson served as President of the United States. It is a relatively short book that focuses more on how Jackson dealt with the... Read more
Published 19 days ago by gloine36
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book, well written.
Published 23 days ago by Penny Lane
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good clean transaction.
Published 1 month ago by Thomas E Wolgat
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
not very comprehensive
Published 1 month ago by Robert Mc Graw
4.0 out of 5 stars A Defining Period
A lot of new facts and opinions about Jackson that support the view that he is one of the defining influences in American history and the Presidency.
Published 1 month ago by Richard Huizinga
4.0 out of 5 stars I learned a lot.
American Lion is a very readable history of Jackson's two terms as President of the United States. It is a short history covering only his time in office, and doesn't cover a lot... Read more
Published 1 month ago by K. Spangler
5.0 out of 5 stars Andrew Jackson
This book is a deeper and more original perspective than most historical writings. I really enjoyed learning about Jackson's inner circle.
Published 2 months ago by Mark Rocchio
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More About the Author

Jon Meacham is the author, most recently, of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, a No. 1 New York Times bestseller that has been named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, The Seattle Times, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Meacham received the Pulitzer Prize for American Lion, his bestselling 2008 biography of Andrew Jackson. He is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers Franklin and Winston and American Gospel. Executive editor and executive vice president of Random House, Meacham is a contributing editor to Time magazine, a former editor of Newsweek, and has written for The New York Times and The Washington Post, among other publications. He is a regular contributor on Meet the Press, Morning Joe, and Charlie Rose. A Fellow of the Society of American Historians, Meacham serves on the boards of the New-York Historical Society; the Churchill Centre; and of The McCallie School. He is a former trustee and Regent of The University of the South and has served on the vestries of St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue and Trinity Church Wall Street. Born in Chattanooga in 1969, Meacham was educated at McCallie and at The University of the South, where he was salutatorian and Phi Beta Kappa. He began his career as a reporter at The Chattanooga Times. He and his wife live with their three children in Nashville and in Sewanee.

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Which Jackson biography to read?
Read Brands first. American Lion is more of Andrew Jackson the President. Brands covers the whole of his life better
Jan 17, 2009 by Richard Kelly |  See all 17 posts
Andrew Jackson Biographies
Few authors of American history have such smooth and eloquent prose as HW Brands. I would highly recommend his treatment of Jackson.
Nov 26, 2008 by Brian J. Steenbergen |  See all 4 posts
Pulitzer Prize
This thing won a Pulitzer? You have GOT to be kidding me.
Apr 24, 2009 by Richard L. Lunde |  See all 2 posts
Why should I read this book?
Why read the book when you can simply blame Jackson for the Holocaust and be done with it? That way you won't have to deal with any untidy facts or opinions that don't fit neatly into your existing beliefs. Much of what makes Jackson a fascinating historical figure are the endless contradictions... Read More
Dec 16, 2008 by S. Jacobson |  See all 7 posts
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