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The Age of Jackson
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
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The Age of Jackson

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  1,804 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
The young Schlesinger, for all the tradition he embodied, had a refreshing streak of informality. While working in the Kennedy White House, he found time to review movies for Show magazine. He also admitted his mistakes. One, he said, was neglecting to mention President Jackson’s brutal treatment of the Indians in his Pulitzer Prize-winning “Age of Jackson.” It was publish ...more
Hardcover, 545 pages
Published 1946 by Book Find Club (first published 1945)
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One might assume that working as an intelligence analyst in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II would leave one little time for much else. Yet Arthur Schlesinger managed to pen the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Age of Jackson during his two year stint with the CIA precursor, published in 1945. Schlesinger would go on to become one of the most influential and recognizable historians of the twentieth century, rubbing shoulders with presidents and even becoming Kennedy’s so-called “co ...more
Jim Gallen
Mar 08, 2015 Jim Gallen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The Age of Jackson” is more the study of the Age than of the man. Jackson is merely one of many who played their roles, including Martin Van Buren, John C. Calhoun, Roger B. Taney, John Quincy Adams and James Polk to mention a few.

The Age of Jackson was an age of conflict: conflict between classes, regions and personalities. It was an era of bank vs. people, plutocrats vs. common man, North vs. South and abolitionist vs. slaveocrat. To author Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. the clash of lasting cons
Aaron Million
Unless you are studying the pre-Civil War period of our country, I would not suggest reading this book. Light reading it is not! It is a dense read, revolving around the Jacksonian democratic philosophy accentuated by Andrew Jackson. Schlesinger focuses much more on theoretical arguments of agrarianism/Jeffersonian principles and how they interact with Jackson's more hard-money, pro labor philosophy that espoused state rights - but only to a certain extent. He also talks about the decline and ul ...more
Leonard Nakamura
Feb 20, 2017 Leonard Nakamura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Writing in 1945, Schlesinger wrote this book to honor the Democratic Party of Jackson and van Buren for extending the democratic franchise and strengthening the role of government. Jackson can be seen as a populist strong man who fostered white supremacy and racism. And his election was viewed by the elites of the time as a catastrophe.
But Jacksonian politics supported universal manhood suffrage, turning decisively away from restricting voting to property holders. It put the lie to the Whig bel
Dec 12, 2008 Clif rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A meaty read for anyone interested in American history, Schlesinger ranges broadly to give the reader a feel for the issues, conflicts, personalities and background of the period from 1830 to just after the Civil War.

Democracy was interpreted in a very constricted way in the early years of the United States. Before the presidency of Andrew Jackson it was held by many wealthy propertied folks of the Federalist party that having property entitled one to a special place in the government of the Uni
Nov 02, 2013 Matt rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, pulitzer
Schlesinger is a good prose stylist, and there's interesting biographical detail of political leaders throughout, but I found it hard to get into this book and was often frustrated by it.
Much of the book is about the controversy of the Bank of the United States, but I never felt like Schlesinger gave us the proper context to understand the real debates here. It's clear Schlesinger thought Jackson and the "hard money" crowd were in the right, but I'm still not 100% sure why. This episode, like mu
Schlesinger laces up the gloves and swings away in this political/philosophical biography/history. His main subject- or rather the philosophical underpinning of his wide-ranging view of many different subjects- is that a pure form of populist democracy, arrayed against the pernicious forces of corporatism and classism will, if not inevitably prevail, invariably be on the right side of history. This book was much more politically dogmatic than I expected it to be, but on this level there is a tho ...more
Erik Graff
Dec 30, 2008 Erik Graff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Americans
Recommended to Erik by: Mr. Ellenberger
Shelves: history
I read this during the winter of the year I took U.S. Government, a required class at Maine Township South High School, probably during the Xmas break as I recall curling up with it in front of the fireplace one evening when the parents had gone to bed. Indeed, I might have finished it in that one sitting as it is short and the reading of it is swift--as if it were a good novel.

My teacher, Mr. Ellenberger, was a recent graduate of Grinnell College as were a couple of other better-than-average te
Sep 23, 2013 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

“The Age of Jackson” by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. was published in 1945 and won the 1946 Pulitzer Prize in the History category. He also won a 1966 Pulitzer Prize for “A Thousand Days” about John F. Kennedy’s presidency. Schlesinger was a well-known historian, social critic and prominent Democrat, and served as Special Assistant to President Kennedy. In all, he authored nearly three-dozen books.

Schlesinger’s “The Age of Jackson” is an American classic and it
Mark Bowles
Aug 30, 2014 Mark Bowles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intent of book
* Motivation to write it was present-minded. "The world crisis has given new urgency to the question of "meaning" in democracy." (ix) Present crisis will be better understood by examining the past. Anachronistic.
* "Search for the immutable moral abstractions of the democratic faith"
* Thesis: The tradition of Jacksonian democracy was primarily a reform tradition, dedicated to a struggle against the entrenched business interests of the national community.
* Prologue, 1829: Adams last
Tom Schulte
Sep 02, 2012 Tom Schulte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This abridged work leads with the perceptive quote of George Bancroft that typifies the question of Jacksonians and their antebellum age: "The feud between the capitalist and the laborer, the house of Have and the house of Want, is as old as social union, and can never be entirely quieted; but he who will act with moderation, prefer facts to theories, and remember that every thing in this world is relative and not absolute, will see that the violence of the contest may be stilled, if the unreaso ...more
Jul 28, 2015 Kay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This in-depth treatment of the age of Jackson (not in particular his biography so it extends well beyond his presidency) showed me that in many ways things were not so different then as now. Back then, the country grappled with wealth inequality - a struggle between the producers (laborers, farmers, and working people who actually produced items but often received little pay) and the accumulators (those who did not manual work but made many through the efforts of others). I rather like those 19t ...more
Andrew Canfield
What an incredibly detailed book (but then again, what else would you expect from Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.?). When I first began reading this book, I assumed it would be a biography of sorts about Andrew Jackson; although the seventh president gets a lot of focus, it expands this to all of the players of the Jacksonian era (1820s-1850s), looking at everyone from John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster and Henry Clay to Martin van Buren, John Tyler and Franklin Pierce.

The era of Andrew Jackson is looked
Brian Schwartz
IN THE AGE OF JACKSON is not a biography of the legendary president. Nor does it restrict itself to the eight year term of the Jackson presidency. Schlesinger instead explores the evolution of classical liberalism as it developed in the days leading up to the election of Jackson through the time of Franklin Roosevelt.

It is remarkable that Schlesinger never wrote a biography of Martin Van Buren or James Polk because he is clearly an admirer of both men. Schlesinger is best known for this book as
Barry Bridges
May 24, 2014 Barry Bridges rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book. Scholarly and tedious, yet full of relevant lessons in today's political environment. I spent March and the better part of April working my way through simply to understand the history of that period better. I came away with more than I bargained for - understanding more than 50 years of American political strategy from a passed over era. Today's Republican political environment tends to pass over the Jackson era in laying a claim (quite false we learn) on the original intent of ...more
Man, I thought this was going to be a biography of Andrew Jackson. Instead, it's a very complicated, nuanced survey of the political climate in 1820-1840s America and how the influence of 'the West' (i.e. the Jacksonian Democrats in Kentucky, Tennessee, and the southern states less reliant on slavery) rocked American politics.

Incredible book, but probably good to read a more run-of-the-mill biography of Jackson (or Henry Clay or John C Calhoun) before tackling this one.

Also, the last 3-4 chapter
James Violand
Sep 13, 2011 James Violand rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs
Shelves: own
Witness the progression of Democracy in the formative years of the United States. The era of the Founders is just about over. Some remnants still live and the attitude of the affluent minority tries to influence a government that is truly of the people. Jackson's struggle against Biddle is here in fine detail. The early secession movement of John C. Calhoun is established in Southern political beliefs. The growth westward... All these struggles are explored in wonderful detail, but not so detail ...more
Mike Shipley
Jul 22, 2013 Mike Shipley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The amazing story of how the 2nd central bank was defeated in the mid-19th century by radicals who spoke against the American aristocracy that had arisen during the years when complacency settled over the land in the post-Revolution era. The country went through a dramatic political realignment that is especially encouraging to study in light of our modern struggle to abolish the Federal Reserve.
This was a very unobjective, partisan take of Andrew jackson in the Bank War. It was completely out of touch with the historiography that existed by the time Schlesinger wrote (1945). Don't use it as a source for the Bank War; read it to see Schlesinger twist history around to show that Jackson gave precedent to FDR's New Deal.
Aug 08, 2011 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a biography of Jackson if that's what you're looking for. (Fine by me.) It offers some great accounting and analysis of the battle of the Second National Bank. Glosses over some of the awful things about Jackson and no mention of his hair.
Mark Stephenson
This was excellent in its day but, in my view. has been largely made obsolete by Daniel Walker Howe's Pulitzer Prize-winning What Hath God Wrought? Democrats were in power when this was published and felt flattered somewhat by it, I suppose, but I think it goes much too easy on Old Hickory.
This book, rather than being about Andrew Jackson himself, is about Jacksonian democracy and the Jacksonian Era. Schlesinger is not the easiest author to read, though his work is now a classic. For more on Jackson himself I would recommend the work of Robert Remini.
Mar 09, 2010 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good, maybe a bit dry for my taste.
P.J. Sullivan
Definitely not a biography of Jackson, but a good discussion of the times in which he lived.
Jan 23, 2013 Dave rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slow going at points and very light on the details surrounding epic Battle of New Orleans that made him a national hero. Decent read for the political side of his life though.
A beautifully written but dated account of the Jacksonian era.
Richard Robinson
Sep 24, 2011 Richard Robinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dec 20, 2008 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Important insight into how America became actually democratic.
Jul 14, 2009 Benjamin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: us-history
I just don't like Andrew Jackson.
Mar 11, 2013 Phillip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not much about Jackson but lucid description of Jacksonian Democracy and the contradictions implicit in the American system: Economic freedom vs economic equality.
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Arthur Meier Schlesinger Jr., born Arthur Bancroft Schlesinger, was a Pulitzer Prize recipient and American historian and social critic whose work explored the liberalism of American political leaders including Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy. He served as special assistant and "court historian" to President Kennedy from 1961 to 1963. He wrote a detailed account of th ...more
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