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American Lion: A Biography of President Andrew Jackson

by Jon Meacham

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Andrew Jackson, his intimate circle of friends, and his tumultuous times are at the heart of this remarkable book about the man who rose from nothing to create the modern presidency. Beloved and hated, venerated and reviled, Andrew Jackson was an orphan who fought his way to the pinnacle of power, bending the nation to his will in the cause of democracy. Jackson's election in 1828 ushered in a new and lasting era in which the people, not distant elites, were the guiding force in American politics. Democracy made its stand in the Jackson years, and he gave voice to the hopes and the fears of a restless, changing nation facing challenging times at home and threats abroad. One of our most significant yet dimly recalled presidents, Jackson was a battle-hardened warrior, the founder of the Democratic Party, and the architect of the presidency as we know it. His story is one of violence, sex, courage, and tragedy. With his powerful persona, his evident bravery, and his mystical connection to the people, Jackson moved the White House from the periphery of government to the center of national action, articulating a vision of change that challenged entrenched interests to heed the popular will or face his formidable wrath. The greatest of the presidents who have followed Jackson in the White House have found inspiration in his example, and virtue in his vision. Jackson was the most contradictory of men. The architect of the removal of Indians from their native lands, he was warmly sentimental and risked everything to give more power to ordinary citizens. He was, in short, a lot like his country: alternately kind and vicious, brilliant and blind; and a man who fought a lifelong war to keep the republic safe, no matter what it took. Jon Meacham, in American Lion, has delivered the definitive human portrait of a pivotal president who forever changed the American presidency and America itself.

Customer Reviews


Andrew Jackson is much like Ben Franklin in that the more one reads about him, the more one becomes infatuated with the subject. However, Meacham's "American Lion" is just plain disappointing. Missing is any meaningful discussion of the myriad Indian wars, for example. Further, his treatment of the subject of Jackson's life- from pre-presidency and beyond- is incessantly dry and tedious. For those looking for a more David McCullough-like exploration of Jackson, this sure is not the book to read. Try H.W. Brands' recent Jackson biography or anything related to the Jacksonian era by Robert Remini. The reality is that American Lion has received the promotion it has because of its author's myriad media connecitons more than due to its own merit.

excellent book, awful reading

Meacham is a thorough researcher and writer and this is an excellent read as a book, but I can't help but think of the old history class film strips from the 70s when I hear this dry, lifeless read.

Great Read!

This book is great for anyone interested in the history of the U.S. Its great to see a dramatic change from how Presidents like Jackson were to today's time. Jackson is truly the "People's President" and this book brings out everything in him, the good or the bad.

Jon Meacham, American Lion: A Biography of President Andrew Jackson
View in iTunes $23.95
  • Narrator: John H. Mayer
  • Published: 2008

Customer Ratings