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Which Jackson biography to read?


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Showing 1-17 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 11, 2009, 3:46:33 PM PST
I'm trying to decide which Andrew Jackson biography to read - the new book American Lion - Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham or Andrew Jackson - His Life and Times by H.W. Brands.

Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance for any help I am provided by anybody who has read both.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 17, 2009, 10:04:44 AM PST
Read Brands first. American Lion is more of Andrew Jackson the President. Brands covers the whole of his life better

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 5, 2009, 7:07:53 AM PST
E. Rice says:
I've read both and I recommend Andrew Jackson - His Life & Times. It gives more detail and a better feeling of A.Jackson. The American Lion tends to gloss over events - and leaves a lot of little details out that help you understand the man. If you want a fast read read American Lion - if you want a really good slow read pick His Life & Times.

Posted on Feb 5, 2009, 7:37:59 PM PST
Go with ANDREW JACKSON: HIS LIFE AND TIMES by H. W. Brands.

Posted on Apr 24, 2009, 12:28:36 PM PDT
I would recommend you read your Summary Health Plan Description (all 128 pages) before you read the Meacham book. Tax codes. The phone book. Anything but that.

In reply to an earlier post on May 1, 2009, 5:34:26 PM PDT
Robert Remini has written the standard biography of Jackson. His one volume, condensed version (the standard is the 3 volume edition) is very good... and, he is a real historian. I would steer clear of Meacham.

In reply to an earlier post on May 27, 2009, 4:23:05 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 27, 2009, 4:24:01 PM PDT
Brands is WAY better. Meacham managed to make Jackson boring--a nearly impossible feat. I am not even sure if the book would have made a decent magazine article if one cut about 7/8ths of it. Avoid it. Library if you must....

Posted on Jul 3, 2009, 5:21:24 PM PDT
cash says:
Meacham's won the Pulitzer Prive - enough said

Posted on Jul 6, 2009, 10:59:27 AM PDT
All biographies are biased to some degree. Remini and Meacham's are highly so. I would recommend Brands' Life and Times, it is complete, thorough and fairly balanced. Also the most enjoyable read of the bunch.

Posted on Sep 10, 2009, 5:24:24 PM PDT
Omar Masood says:
Brand's is far better for someone interested in learning about Jackson, as I presume you are. If you are looking for an entertaining read which offers a basic overview of Jackson then Meachem's book is adequate, but even there Brands trumps Meachem. Both are good writers so Meachem's book has no advantage over Brands' in terms of readibility and entertainment.

As Chris mentioned, Remini, the nation's foremost historian of the Jacksonian Era, has written the definitive biography on Jackson. If three volumes are too much of a slog, Remini's one volume abridgment is a solid substitute. You cannot really go wrong with either Brands or Remini when it comes to one volume biographies of Jackson.

Posted on Nov 3, 2009, 4:15:48 PM PST
Aragon says:
Brand, by all means. Meacham is rich in special effects, topical, but immensely shallow.

Posted on Nov 6, 2009, 1:15:14 AM PST
Chris Tucher says:
I'm with those who say steer clear of American Lion. I found it unbearable and wanted to drop it off a bridge by page 150. It seemed pre-occupied by the soap opera (at least Meacham writes it that way) of Jackson's niece Emily and the wife of his War Secretary. The book bounces around between Indian affairs, intrusive New England clergymen, nullification - but without analysis or development of any of these themes. Like biography with A.D.D. I am shocked and dismayed that this was found worthy of the Pulitzer.

Posted on Nov 6, 2009, 1:16:05 AM PST
Chris Tucher says:
I'm with those who say steer clear of American Lion. I found it unbearable and wanted to drop it off a bridge by page 150. It seemed pre-occupied by the soap opera (at least Meacham writes it that way) of Jackson's niece Emily and the wife of his War Secretary. The book bounces around between Indian affairs, intrusive New England clergymen, nullification - but without analysis or development of any of these themes. Like biography with A.D.D. I am shocked and dismayed that this was found worthy of the Pulitzer.

Posted on Nov 6, 2009, 1:16:40 AM PST
Chris Tucher says:
I'm with those who say steer clear of American Lion. I found it unbearable and wanted to drop it off a bridge by page 150. It seemed pre-occupied by the soap opera (at least Meacham writes it that way) of Jackson's niece Emily and the wife of his War Secretary. The book bounces around between Indian affairs, intrusive New England clergymen, nullification - but without analysis or development of any of these themes. Like biography with A.D.D. I am shocked and dismayed that this was found worthy of the Pulitzer.

Posted on Nov 6, 2009, 1:17:11 AM PST
Chris Tucher says:
I'm with those who say steer clear of American Lion. I found it unbearable and wanted to drop it off a bridge by page 150. It seemed pre-occupied by the soap opera (at least Meacham writes it that way) of Jackson's niece Emily and the wife of his War Secretary. The book bounces around between Indian affairs, intrusive New England clergymen, nullification - but without analysis or development of any of these themes. Like biography with A.D.D. I am shocked and dismayed that this was found worthy of the Pulitzer.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 17, 2010, 9:32:45 PM PST
I've not read either of these books, but I love the way Brands writes. He makes his subject human and he has a sense of humor that show thru.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 10, 2012, 2:18:19 PM PST
J. Churchill says:
In the case of Jackson's presidency, there is a strong case to be made for the soap opera interfering with governance. In addition, the Margaret Eaton affair also shows a "bad judgment" and very possibly intensely psychologically defensive side of Jackson. I just finished American Lion and found it wanting, mostly because information I felt I needed was missing. I think Meacham's biography is best suited to those with extensive knowledge of Andrew Jackson, but I think his personal life reflects some disorganization that is important in the character of the man. A more psychological biography would be fascinating, because this man was an interesting study.
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