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Andrew Jackson Hardcover – December 27, 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In the latest installment of the American Presidents series edited by Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Princeton historian Wilentz shows that our complicated seventh president was a central figure in the development of American democracy. Wilentz gives Jackson's early years their due, discussing his storied military accomplishments, especially in routing the British in the War of 1812, and rehearsing the central crises of Jackson's presidential administration—South Carolina's nullification of the protective tariff and his own battle against the Bank of the United States. But Wilentz's most significant interpretations concern Indian policy and slavery. With constitutional and security concerns, Jackson's support for removal of Indians from their lands, says Wilentz, was not "overtly malevolent," but was nonetheless "ruinous" for Indians. Even more strongly, Wilentz condemns the "self-regarding sanctimony of posterity" in judging Jackson insufficiently antislavery; Jackson's main aim, he says, was not to promote slavery, but to keep the divisive issue out of national politics. Wilentz (The Rise of American Democracy) also astutely reads the Eaton affair—a scandal that erupted early in Jackson's presidency, over the wife of one of his cabinet members—as evidence that, then as now, parlor politics and partisan politics often intersected. It is rare that historians manage both Wilentz's deep interpretation and lively narrative.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Best known now for beating the British in the 1815 Battle of New Orleans, Jackson is truly, monumentally important, Wilentz argues, as the first great presidential champion of the common man and indivisible union. He fought the plutocratic Bank of the United States' stranglehold on credit for the sake of farmers and small businessmen. His militant expansionism--the rationale for his Indian removal policies, which he felt were better than white settlers exterminating Native Americans, as had happened in New England--aimed to facilitate American settlement and prevent foreign, especially British, encroachment. He became founder-leader of the first modern political party, the Democracy (later called the Democratic Party), to prosecute the interests of ordinary citizens, too, going so far as to advocate direct senatorial and presidential election. Even his anti-states rights and anti-secession positions reflected his social sympathies, for he considered his southern opponents on those issues would-be aristocrats. Factor in his heroic courage, iron will, and remarkable pragmatism, and Jackson's presidential stature, especially as carefully expounded here, seems towering, indeed. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 195 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books - Henry Holt and Company; BCE edition (December 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805069259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805069259
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I was fully prepared to dislike this book, but I bought it because of my continued enjoyment of the American Presidents series. My dislike would have been inspired by some of Professor Wilentz's comments regarding contemporary public policy. But once again, he fooled me. His comments on Jackson are insightful, he puts him in the right historical context, does not shy away from the unflattering, and is not given to making moral judgments based on modern attitudes regarding Jackson's sometimes appalling stances and statements.
I still think Professor Wilentz makes a few assumptions about Jackson's views re: the Constitution and what the government owes the individual, but he is not nearly as dogmatic as I would have guessed. Overall, a worthy introduction to the president and a handsome addition to the series.
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Format: Hardcover
He's on most lists of our best presidents as well as our $20 bill. Democrats hail him as a founder. After reading this book, and attempting a few others, it's still hard to understand why Jackson has been accorded such respect.

I started both the Brand and Remini bios. Through them I came to understand his childhood and how the American Revolution shaped his character and views. The psychological toll of losing his nuclear family at a young age had to be enormous. His mother's heroic search and rescue of him in a very abusive British POW camp illustrates the love and family loyalty he lost.

Wilentz quickly outlines the child/youth/military and plunges into the presidency, which was what I was seeking when I started reading the others.

Wilentz cleary states the complicated facts of Jackson's war on the bank. To Jackson it was a war on the aristrocracy. It is not within the scope of Wilentz's book to editorialize, but were Biddle and his cronies really controling the US economy? Could the land issues have been settled with (Lincolnesque) homestead acts, which undoubtedly would have been very popular? Could he have fought for legislative mini-changes (Clintonesque) to curb certain powers, such as bidding out government banking needs. Jackson and Biddle were clearly obstinate equals, but as Pres, it would seem that there were other paths to take leadership on this since he deemed it important. How necessary and/or effective was this bank war? Did it really save the "little guy" in the short or long run?

In his tooth and nail fight on nullification, Jackson may have been as instrumental as Lincoln in holding the union together. Jackson's stand against nullification not only solidified the sentiment for his day, but also built precedent for future times.
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Format: Hardcover
The 2008 Presidential race is in full swing, and interest in the contest runs high. In order to keep my own bearings, I wanted to try to take a short but broader view of our Presidents and our nation's history. One way to do this is by reading some of the volumes in the recent "American Presidents" series edited by the late Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Each volume in this series offers, in short compass, the life and accomplishments of an American president together with an evaluation of his achievement.

I chose Sean Wilentz' biography of Andrew Jackson (1767 -- 1845) because of our seventh President's role in broadening the basis of American democracy and because of the controversy he inspired and continues to inspire. Jackson was a flamboyant, larger-than-life figure with great virtues and as many faults. He was orphaned at an early age and bore for life the physical and emotional scars inflicted upon him by a sword gash to the head by a British officer during the Revolutionary War. Jackson fought off poverty and his own impulsive nature to serve an early term in Congress and in the Senate before the 19th century. He became a lawyer, a judge and a large plantation owner of the Hermitage in Tennessee. He became famous as an Indian fighter in wars against the Southeast Tribes such as the Creeks and Cherokees and against the Florida Seminoles. Jackson won a great victory against the British at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, (the War of 1812 was officially over at the time) which secured his fame.

Jackson ran for President in 1824 but, following a close election, he was denied the presidency in the House of Representatives as a result of what he claimed was a "corrupt bargain" between John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I liked that the author chose important aspects of Jackson's life and presidency and stayed on topic. It gave highlights of Jackson's early life, gave the reader insight into Jackson's personality, and established background for events that influenced his later thinking as president. It stuck to the major challenges that Jackson faced as president such as the nullification crisis, national bank, the Eaton affair, slavery, Indian removal and westward expansion. It didn't go too deep into detail but gave enough to allow a good understanding of the events covered. In some respects I felt the author went easy on Jackson on topics such as Indian removal and slavery, but did offer criticism that addressed his shortcomings and failures in these areas. Overall, I think the book gave a balanced view of Jackson's life and presidency and helped me gain a better knowledge and understanding of both. I consider this worthwhile reading.
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