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Jackson Hardcover – February 3, 1997

3.8 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Adultery, murder, conspiracy and land fraud are the scandals laid at the feet of Andrew Jackson in 1828 as he runs for president against John Quincy Adams. Byrd's second historical novel (after Jefferson) presents the adult life of Old Hickory as seen through the astute eyes of a young and hungry writer, David Chase, who is commissioned by an anti-Jackson partisan to write a book that will expose the candidate's stained personal, professional and political life. Eventually, a clear picture emerges of the man who would become the seventh president: coarse, hot-tempered, politically radical, a brawler, a war hero, a devoted husband and a very sharp politician. Slogging through the muck of political skullduggery and the barnyard intrigues of early Washington, D.C., Chase learns the truth of Jackson's rumored adultery, his famous and bloody duels and his involvement with Aaron Burr's wild plot to establish an empire. Finally, Chase falls under the spell of this charismatic man, and so is faced with any journalist's greatest dilemma. Young America comes alive here through a cast of famous players including Jackson, his confidant John Coffee, Burr, Henry Clay, Sam Houston, John C. Calhoun and others. Deftly balancing fact and fiction, Byrd invests his tale with color, emotion and grand historical drama.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This work is a well-written biography within a fairly well-written novel. The novel segment opens in 1828 as Andrew Jackson is making his second run for the presidency. David Chase has been commissioned by a William Short to write a "true" biography of Old Hickory. Many biographies have been written of Andy Jackson, and all are flattering. This is not what the John Q. Adams people want, however. Chase is supposed to tell about all the men Jackson has murdered in duels and how he stole his wife, Rachel, away from her husband and lived in sin with her for two and a half years. Chase was to report on Jackson's rages, how others ridiculed his bad grammar and spelling, and how his minions rewrite all his speeches, letters, and memos. But as Chase researches and writes about Jackson, a flawed hero emerges. It comes down to whether the aristocracy of New England and Virginia will continue to rule the new country or yield to a man of the common folk. This book is for everyone, whether student of history or not, for its wonderful insights into the people and times of our infant republic.?Dawn Anderson, North Richland Hills P.L., Tex.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; First Edition edition (February 3, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055309632X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553096323
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,199,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
There are two stories running side-by-side, like horses in harness, in "Jackson," the fascinating novel about Old Hickory's 1828 campaign for the presidency by "Jefferson" novelist Max Byrd.
The story that will draw readers into the book concerns David Chase, a young writer hired by an enemy of Andrew Jackson to research and write a scurrilous biography of him that will derail his presidential bid. Fortunately for Chase, there is plenty of scandal to be found. Jackson lived a life on the frontier, where duels were as common as breathing, and where those with a lick of sense and an ounce of ambition -- and Jackson had more than enough of both -- were not above using any means to get ahead.
But it's Rachel, Jackson wife of 38 years, who had the potential of providing the juiciest bits of gossip. Although we first meet her as a pious, elderly woman, content to smoke her corncob pipe on the veranda of their home, the Hermitage, she was considered a vivacious beauty in her youth, when Andrew eloped with her to escape an abusive marriage. They were married, and lived together for two years before discovering that her first husband neglected to file divorce papers. Bigamy, no matter how accidental nor how long ago, was still a powerful charge in 1828.
Worse, rumors are about that Rachel that she was involved with another man while still married to her first husband. If Chase can find proof, he could set alight the charge that would dynamite Jackson's campaign.

The second, more subtle, story has to do with America of the 1820s, making its way from being a stepchild of Great Britain to something reflecting its native character, an uneasy mix of sectional rivalries and class distinctions that can still be seen today.
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Format: Paperback
Forget Gore Vidal, Max Byrd's "Jackson" surpasses any of Vidal's historical novels. In fact, Byrd may be the finest author of historical novels now working in the United States.
"Jackson" is beautifully crafted, with a plot that siezes readers and fascinates them until the book is finished. Andrew Jackson is a man who has always deserved to be better known by us all. Byrd brings him to life with consumate skill.
More importantly, he inserts readers into Jackson's time and offers an entire panorama of our burgeoning nation in 1828. Only four of the characters are invented, and the real people who surrounded Jackson speak, act, and react as they did when they were alive.
This is a wonderful book, with characters who are works of art. It should be read by anyone with the slightest taste for history, true drama, or simply the finest writing on today's horizon.
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By A Customer on July 10, 1997
Format: Hardcover
While the story and characters seem to develop slowly, toward the end of the book, the story pace and development of the characters picks up significantly. Detracting from the book, however, are inaccuracies sprinkled throughout the novel. For example, the author places American General Nathaniel Greene in command of the Continental Army at the battle of Camden during the Revolutionary War. Nathaniel Greene was not even assigned to the Southern Army when the battle of Camden was fought. General Horatio Gates commanded the Americans at the battle of Camden. Only after Gates was vanquished at Camden was Nathaniel Greene assigned to the Southern Army as Commander. It was Greene that was responsible for the campaign that resulted in the battles of Cowpens and Guilford Courthouse. Another inaccuracy is the distance listed between Knoxville, TN and Nashville, TN. The author states the distance as ninety miles. In reality, it's much closer to one hundred fifty miles between these two cities. Inaccuracies such as these hurt an otherwise good story
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Format: Paperback
As with several of his books, Max Byrd uses the interesting technique of using the writing of fictional characters to tell true stories of heroes of the past. This book is set in 1827-1828 as Andrew Jackson is running for President against John Quincy Adams. David Chase in this book serves a similar role as Nicolas Trist in the book "Grant" where a writer returns from abroad and is given the job of writing about the central character. In this book Chase's employer is hoping for a hatchet job on Andrew to prevent the "uncultured" forces of the West from gaining access to the White House. Similar to "Grant" there's also a smattering of romance among the fictional characters to keep the story spicey. Byrd is a well-educated man and it is easily reflected in his work. One doesn't have to know Latin but there is more than one example where it would help..."Veni, vidi, vici." What's most enjoyable is how Byrd weaves tid-bits of facts into his historical profiles. I had never thought about how the cast-iron frame had extended the life of pianos because a complete wooden frame would be destroyed by the masters in short order. One of the central themes involves rumors and truths about Jackson's wife, Rachael. Will her early indiscretions be enough to sink Jackson's bid for the White House? Byrd does a nice job of addressing this with known facts, interspersed with supposition. Finally, there's a great deal in this book about a man whom history has mostly forgotten...General Coffee. Coffee was with Jackson throughout many years of his adult life, serving with him at New Orleans and back into civilian life through Jackson's presidency. If you're interested in those that shaped this Union during the early 1800s you'll enjoy this book.
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