Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Review: American Lion

Jon Meacham packs a lot into his Pulitzer Prize-winning biography American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. Focusing on Jackson's time in the White House, Meacham rushes through Jackson's childhood and early years, including the 1814 Battle of New Orleans that ended the War of 1812 against the British and propelled Jackson to national fame.

But he takes his time with Jackson's years as America's seventh President, describing in readable but thorough detail the major issues and controversies of Jackson's two terms in office. Key among these were the "nullification" issue that threatened to destroy the Union and Jackson's campaign against the Bank of America. Meacham does a good job of explaining not just what happened, but the significance of the debates.

Meacham also puts Jackson and his battles into personal and national context by examining the political and philosophical condition of the adolescent United States as well as how personal feelings, events, and tragedy affected Jackson's judgment.

Jackson had deep flaws, especially viewed from the current perspective. Chief among his flaws was his lifelong support of slavery, despite his lifelong commitment to freedom and liberty. Meacham analyzes Jackson's contradictions and presents a complete portrait of this fascinating man.

Bob Sanchez's review on The Internet Review of Books
(If you would like your review listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.)

This book is on my LibraryThing Early Reviewer list, leaving me with only three left to read.  It was also my "white" choice for the Colorful Reading Challenge. I only have my "blue" choice left to finish by the end of the year and I will complete that challenge.


  1. I enjoyed this book too, but have to say I was disappointed that the politicians of old seemed as bad as those of today.

  2. Sounds like a great one! I'll have to read it.

  3. That's the problem with nostalgia, it gives you the false feeling that things were better in the past.
    "Things sucked then too they just sucked without indoor plumbing." hehe

    I had this idea to read a biography of every president. Some day I'll do it.

  4. A fine book and review about a complicated and violent man I like to think I would have hated. Here is my own review from the Internet Review of Books.

    Bob Sanchez

  5. That is an interesting sounding book. I don't know anything about Andrew Jackson other than he was the 7th President and is on the ten dollar bill. But that he supported slavery while being a supporter of freedom is a huge contradiction. I would love to know more about that. Thanks for the review! I am posting it on the challenge post. But for some reason the links sometimes work and sometimes don't. I don't know what the problem is. :/

  6. Bermuda -- If by "same" you mean grandstanding, horse trading, and mud slinging, then, yes, they are the same!

    RR -- It is a good one. But you have so many book projects going! I can't see how you can out anything else on your TBR shelf! Good job with the Classics Circuit>, by the way.

    AutoD -- I have the same Presidential biography goal. I had planned to tread them all in order, but that was too much. But I'd like to get a list going. If you ever find a good one, please pass it on.

    Bob -- I forgot you reviewed this for the IRB. I'll add the link. Thanks!

    R :) -- Thanks for linking my review. I've had a lot of fun with your Colorful Reading Challenge>! I only have my "blue" book left.


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