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The Age of Jackson (Back Bay Books (Series)) Paperback – November 28, 1988

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Product Details

  • Series: Back Bay Books (Series)
  • Paperback: 577 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reissue edition (November 28, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316773433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316773430
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #446,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


A landmark in American historical writing. -- Marquis James

An original, brilliant and monumentally massive historical work...It is a major achievement -- The New York Times

Performed not merely adequately but brilliantly . . . a remarkable piece of analytical history. -- Allan Nevins --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Arthur Meier Schlesinger Jr. is a distinguished Professor of History and the author of 16 books. He has twice won the Pulitzer Prize, first for The Age of Jackson, then 20 years later for A Thousand Days, his portrait of the Kennedy administration, which also won the National Book Award. He served in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during the Second World War and as special assistant to the president in the Kennedy White House. In 1967, Schlesinger was appointed Albert Schweitzer Chair in the Humanities at the City University of New York Graduate School. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Not a page turner but well worth reading.
I would only use this book if I had something that slanted rightward to the same degree to balance it.
Johnny L. Davis
This is an important book that explores key facets of American history and political thought.
Scott Cromar

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Sam A. Mawn-Mahlau on November 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is a classic of American History, and is very much a chapter in Schlesinger's broader project of discovering the roots of (then-) modern liberalism through history. This is a book that is best described as a history of ideas, and particularly of the idea of democracy as it expanded in the 1830s and 1840s, embracing universal suffrage and economic as well as political egalitarianism. The book very much reflects the time in which it was written and the debates which it was part of, and, like much history of the period, seeks to refocus discussion of American history away from themes of frontier and nationalialism.

There are several things this book is not:

This book is not a comprehensive history of the period;
it is not even a social or economic history of the period;
it is not a biography of Jackson (indeed, Martin Van Buren may well receive more ink than Jackson in this book); and
it is not an attempt to write a definitive work; rather, it is a voice in a rather lively debate.

Schlesigner's voice in the book is clear and open. His own biases and prejudices are on the surface, not hidden and not given any claims of a "disinterested" scientific approach. Yet his research and his mustering of support are thorough and meticulous, and he is just as clear in discussing the shortcomings of his analysis (such as in the closing chapters) as in describing the shortcoming of other's analyses.

His fundamental argument is that the Jacksonian intellectual tradition was the first American intellectual tradition to clearly recognize a need for economic as well as political egalitarianism, and the first to make good on the fundamental concept that "All men (still men in the Jacksonian age) are created equal.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By David M. Koss on March 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
When, as a young man, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. published "The Age of Jackson" he gave us an insightful volume about the founder of the modern Democratic party, and of the critical generation of U.S. History that followed the presidencies of Madison and Monroe, and preceded the woefully incompetent administrations that helped to precipitate the Civil War. From the vantage point of the year 2000, it is easy to criticize the author for failing to take Jackson to task for his vile policy toward native Americans. It is also much harder for intelligent Americans of today to understand the merits of Jackson's opposition to the Bank of the United States. But his opposition to the Bank of the United States was derived from a populist streak that makes liberals cheer, and his position on other major issues justifies the honors bestowed on him by today's Democrats (just as Republicans have "Lincoln Day" dinners to annually honor their party's best President, Democrats have "Jefferson-Jackson Day" dinners to honor their party's two founders).
"The Age of Jackson" is probably the second place that all college history students should turn to, as they study pre-Civil War America, second only to getting the raw outline of events from their required textbook. Of course, the Schlesinger book is no longer the final place for the student's research; more recent, albeit less well-written works must be studied as well. Still, historians would be hard-pressed to ignore this classic.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By "charlesreads" on May 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
I found it very hard to rate this book. In the end, I chose between three and four stars, and went with four. But, at various times, I considered everything from two to five.
This book has several serious problems. The most important is the incredible bias of the author. This bias is evident, to some extent, throughout the book, where Schlesinger's very liberal views taint almost everything he discusses. The last section of the book is particularly outrageous. It is, essentially, a very biased, distorted attack on legitimate policy views held by some moderates and conservatives. (By the way, I am not an arch-conservative; I'm a moderate who agrees with Schlesinger on many political and policy issues, but who doesn't think they should warp his account of history so much.)
Still, the book is a classic, and not without reason. It's well-written (unlike a lot of history I've been reading lately), lucid, and thoughtful. The story of Jackson and the politics of the first half of the 19th century is fascinating and very important to ones understanding of the development of the U.S. At the time at which this book was written, it advanced significantly our understanding of Jackson and this period -- even if subsequent research and analysis has improved on it. And, it's a good read.
So, I recommend this book as long as you go into it knowing its weaknesses and understanding that a lot in it is colored by Schlesinger's own political views.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By chefdevergue VINE VOICE on July 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
It amazes me that this work continues to garner high praise after all this time, when the work of other scholars (Remini in particular comes to mind) has only undermined nearly every argument that Schlesinger makes. I don't see how anyone can regard his thesis as being the least bit credible these days.

Schlesinger commits the cardinal sin of a historian: he enters into his research with a thesis etched in stone (in this case, the belief that the Democratic Party from Jackson to JFK & beyond has had a consistent political philosophy) and then tries to prove it using the historical record, come hell or high water.

What we are left with is the absurdity of Andrew Jackson (self-proclaimed enemy of centralized government) being put forth as some sort of proto-New Dealer, while the evil nasty Whigs (how Schlesinger failed to see the similarities of Henry Clay's "American System" with any number of FDR's programs, I'll never know) are cast in the role of Bob Taft & the gang. I suppose that it makes sense to Schlesinger, since elements of the shattered Whig party went on to form the antebellum Republican Party. However, I imagine that more than a few States' Rights advocates might tend to see an awful lot of similarity between Abe Lincoln & FDR.

It doesn't help that Schlesinger frequently slips into the role of advocate rather than being a scholar. The good guys seem to be squaring off against the bad guys far too often. The Whig party is grossly oversimplified and characterized as a solid, coherent bloc. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the lack of cohesion was largely responsible for the Whig party splintering hopelessly beyond repair in the 1850's. One would never get this impression from reading Schlesinger.
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