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American Lion

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  32,968 Ratings  ·  1,350 Reviews

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

Hardcover, 512 pages
Published November 11th 2008 by Random House Publishing Group (first published 2008)
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(showing 1-30)
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Dec 02, 2008 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this book confused people. They were expecting a McCullough-esque hardcore biography of everything Jackson did EVER. Not so. As Meacham himself states in his Author's note, he was going for a biographical portrait of Jackson's time in the White House. And on that account, this is an excellent book. It gives a great picture of the tumult surrounding Jackson's two terms, the things that made him tick, and the decisions that defined his presidency. No, it didn't really tell us all about And ...more
Feb 07, 2014 Joe rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened-to
A terrible book about a horrible man written by a coward. I know that sounds harsh but there's no other way to describe it. The book claims to be only about his years in the White House. It isn't. Frequently, Meacham cherry picks and subsequently white washes Jackson's past sins in an effort to show him as a complicated hero.

Jackson wasn't complicated. He was maybe one of the simplest presidents America ever had. Here are some simple facts:
1) His greatest military victory was the Battle of New O
Jan 03, 2009 Gillian is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Um, did you know Andrew Jackson was a huge badass? He was also sort of a jerk. And he invented the Democratic party basically. Plus he was not very cool to the Native Americans.
Brad Lyerla
Jan 21, 2013 Brad Lyerla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jackson usually is praised for his vision of the presidency and commitment to the Federal Union, while simultaneously lamented for his demagoguery and racism. Meacham takes these subjects on without reservation. In Meacham's account, Jackson is at his very best while staring down the threat to the union posed by the Nullification Movement which arose in South Carolina and was championed by John C. Calhoun, Jackson's vice president. (Times were different.) He is at his worst when orchestrating th ...more
Oct 30, 2011 Brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When you try and tackle a subject as complicated as Andrew Jackson, and limit a book to just his presidency, it's just impossible to properly portray the man in the White House. So for those who have never read Marquis James or Robert Remini's multi-volume depiction of Jackson, the first 180 pages of this book read like a season story arch of a prime time soap opera. The "Eaton Affair" was a very central topic of Jackson's first term of presidency, but to understand why it was such a central foc ...more
Cassidy Cassidy
While a terrifically thorough listing of the era's political issues and the personalities clashing over them, the examination left much to be desired. The substance falls victim to a regular temptation among American authors writing American history. Meacham's approach only acknowledges in passing the character flaws of his subject while amplifying the qualities and deeds that would make Jackson a hero to many. For instance, Jackson's unrepentant slave-ownership and his role in devastating gener ...more
Oct 07, 2015 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
In a further exploration of the lives of those who helped shape early America, I turned back to biographer Jon Meacham and his depiction of Andrew Jackson. I thoroughly enjoying the author's depiction of Thomas Jefferson in a similar piece and hoped to leave with as much knowledge of this lesser known figure. The seventh President of the United States, Jackson broke many early precedents and his two-terms in office opened the door to a new era in presidential politics, bringing the commoner's vi ...more
Larry Bassett
OK here's the bottom line: I listened to this book in the audible format and it was dull enough on occasion that I dozed off. Not too often and not too long but it did happen!

I decided to read this book now in an effort to understand Mr. Trump's apparent admiration for Andrew Jackson. Other Goodreads reviews are mixed.

Jackson was yet another president who owned slaves. And he was yet another president who pushed the Native Americans aggressively out of their home territory. I finished the book n
Not an antithesis to the "Jackson is genocidal war criminal!" narrative, but a rather balanced approach to the guy, focusing mainly on his terms of office and placing him in the context of his time. I thought Meacham did an excellent job of presenting Jackson in a balanced way, both vices and virtues.

What amazed me the most was that I had heard about "The Petticoat Affair," but - as Meacham described its evolution and progression - it was really the most encompassing, polarizing and lolzy politi
Jan 20, 2009 Sara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didntfinish
I was excited to read this book, so it was especially disappointing to discover how poorly written it is. I only got through about 75 pages before giving up. The narration bounces around in time, skips over areas I think are important and goes into too much detail about other things. I know the book is supposed to focus on his presidency but I need to know more about him as a person to appreciate that and this just wasn't doing it for me. Bah.
Jeremy Perron
Mar 07, 2014 Jeremy Perron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Meachham's book American Lion covers the years when Andrew Jackson was the President of the United States. In some ways it tries to mimic the traditional biography with a few chapters into his background. This sort of reminds me of the last book I read on John Quincy Adams' post-presidency. Include a small mini-biography in the beginning before getting into the substance of your book. In that view the earlier chapters are a waste of space. Meacham could have just explained Jackson's back-st ...more
Oct 23, 2009 Brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
STATEMENT: I received a free copy of this book thru the GoodReads site to review.

Well, Mr Meacham has done an excellent job researching Andrew Jackson as well as the culture and history surrounding his time in the White House. I cannot fault him in his research... and his book did impress upon me the amount of knowledge that he has acquired on the subject.

However, I was not a fan of the book. I had to force myself to persevere thru its reading. I found it dull, but more importantly, I felt that
Mar 23, 2009 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here's my history with this book:

- I "acquired" it (I'm pretty sure it was a gift from my mother in law [thanks Mary!], but it's been so long now that I honestly don't remember for sure. So I apologize if it was your gift. At least I'm getting a lot out of it, what with me "reading" it for years now) oh, maybe 6 or 7 years ago.

- Started it, and never made it past the first 50 or so pages before stalling (I love history, but I really have to be in the right mood for it. And let's face it - even t
Apr 24, 2017 Ernie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is specifically more about Jackson's personal relationships during his tenure in the White House as opposed to a political biography. As such, it paints a much rosier picture of the man than is usually put to canvas. A lot of time is spent on the Donelsons and the Eatons, and detailing Jackson's love of family. It's interesting to see how such a seemingly kind man, when dealing with those that he loved, could have been so cruel and vicious to so many others.
The Thousander Club
American Lion by Jon Meacham shows the amazing nuances which accompanies any sincere look at history. Andrew Jackson was a controversial figure during his time as president and remains to be so today. His presence on the twenty-dollar bill is a subject of no small debate in some circles. I must admit I was unaware as to why someone like himself would find such an honored place in our history until I read American Lion. The book doesn't glorify the man but respects the contributions he made, as w ...more
Dec 31, 2008 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-reads
I can't say I remember enough about Andrew Jackson from my schooling (vague recollections of having read "Age of Jackson" in prep school) to know how fair is this portrayal. Jon Meacham clearly admires Jackson and has written a positive accounting of his presidency. I'd put this biography in the category of McCullough's "John Adams," Isaacson's "Benjamin Franklin" and "Einstein," and Goodwin's "Team of Rivals." But as all good books do, Meacham has made me curious to read and know more about Jac ...more
Jill Hutchinson
I am at odds as to how to rate this book. Andrew Jackson is a President who doesn't get a lot of attention in the overall scheme of things. Most people remember him from the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812 but don't seem to know much about his Presidency.........and a lot was happening during his eight years as the seventh POTUS.

The book concentrates solely on his years in the White House with limited information about his background and what shaped his personality and ideas. The author
Nov 11, 2008 Mahlon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
In American Lion, Meacham explores how Jackson used his presidency to expand executive power. He uses the way Jackson responded to pivotal issues throughout his presidency to illustrate his points. Among the issues discussed are The nullification crisis, The war against the second bank, Indian removal, internal improvements, and The petticoat war. Also, the importance in which Jackson held his family is discussed more than I've ever seen in any other biography.

This is a great one volume biograp
Jan 23, 2016 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting slice of American history, one that most people only briefly studied. In fact, Jackson’s presidency (seventh president, 1829-1837) lays the groundwork for the American Civil War. More than just slavery, the issues involving federalism and states rights led to a split in thinking between a lot of interesting characters during this time: John Quincy Adams, John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, John Marshall, Martin Van Buren (eighth president), and Daniel Webster. Yes, Meacham can write (and ...more
Mar 10, 2017 Vertrees rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good book, but not what I expected. AJ is a fantastic, bigger than life and seriously flawed leader who transformed the American presidency. The book seriously dragged on the middle, and I think bc he went on and on about the Donaldsons and Eatons in the Petticoat wars and other experiences. Although it had some influence in his life, it wasn't an aspect of his life I was interested in. I was more interested in events that went on during that time, not just the people around him that had less ...more
Robert Owen
Okay……soooooo, it won a Pulitzer Prize. While one shouldn't get overwrought about a particular award that a given book may receive, but I’ve been reading lots of history lately and I’ve found that as a rule, books awarded a Pulitzer are awarded them for a reason. When I decided that it was about time that I filled in the gaps in my knowledge of antebellum American history in general and the Jacksonian era, in particular, I was tickled to find the Pulitzer Prize winning “American Lion” there to h ...more
Nov 21, 2013 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Andrew Jackson is a difficult biographical subject; he lived during a difficult time and dealt with difficult issues in a difficult manner. Things were never easy with Jackson. He viewed life as a struggle and lived virtually every day of his life that way. And if one looks at the major issues facing America from the Revolutionary to the Civil War, Jackson was seemingly directly or indirectly involved in all of them, so framing his life is not a simple task. Meacham has provided us with a very f ...more
Focuses just one Jacksons presidency and the family he surrounded himself with and the major crises of his presidency. Quite a different individual than those before him.
Dan Joseph
Of all the presidencies that no living person has experienced, the presidency of Andrew Jackson is perhaps the most misunderstood. Over the last twenty years the seventh president has taken a real beating for his treatment of the Native Americans. And deservedly so. His forced removal of Indian tribes out of southern states and into the frontier is solely responsible for the fact that he is going to be removed from the $20 bill. It's also pretty much the only thing that most Americans know about ...more
Brian Bess
Oct 13, 2012 Brian Bess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read American Lion with constant awareness of the parallels in American political power plays between Jackson’s era and today. The news feed from the current Presidential election echoed in my mind as I read of Jackson’s relentless campaigning and rise to the Presidency and the machinations he employed to keep his power also found similarities with other administrations from the modern era.

Meacham summarizes Jackson’s life pre-election, setting the stage with as much detail as necessary to und
Jul 26, 2011 Stuart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Very readable, digestible, due to its concentration on the 8 years Jackson spent in the White House. The book is well written, in a very accessible style, featuring a certain amount of opinion as well as dry facts. Sometimes biographies are too wide and are relegated to being reference books rather than something you would choose to read. This one reads easily and is all the better for it.

As the first president outside the Virginia / Massachusetts axis, he was a different sort of president. In a
Tom Gase
A good book on the seventh President of the United States, Andrew Jackson. I basically didn't know much at all about Jackson before reading this book. Jon Meachem, the author, sticks with Jackson's time serving as the President for the large portion of this book, I'd say about 95 percent of it. The research is very good and it's written pretty well, although kind of dry at times for me. I learned a lot of things about Jackson. SPOILERS even though it's based off something that is true and happen ...more
Mar 11, 2009 Randy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I heard the author, Jon Meacham, give two radio interviews, so I was really looking forward to reading his book.

But I am somewhat disappointed.

Mr. Meacham focuses his book on Andrew Jackson's presidency; so he quickly glosses over the rest of his life. As a result I never understood what motivated Jackson.

For example: Mr. Meacham devotes about 1/3 of his book to the "Eaton Affair." And yet I never understood why Jackson was so loyal to Eaton.
Also, Mr. Meacham describes Jackson's war against the
Dec 29, 2008 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I live in New Orleans I feel a certain vague connection to Jackson. The Chalmette battleground down river, where his forces slaughtered the British, is still an interesting place to visit. There is a reenactment there of the Battle of New Orleans in February.

This book was a Christmas present. It is focused on the man and what drove him perhaps more than the events in his life. Jackson was a pivotal figure in US history in many ways.

Gave me much more appreciation of this complex man and hi
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Huntsville-Madiso...: Vive Le Livre Staff Pick--American Lion 1 6 Oct 16, 2012 09:13AM  
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Jon Meacham is the editor of Newsweek, a Pulitzer Prize winning bestselling author and a commentator on politics, history, and religious faith in America.
More about Jon Meacham...

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“Always take all the time to reflect that circumstances permit, but when the time for action has come, stop thinking. (Andrew Jackson)” 15 likes
“Jackson was a transformative president in part because he had a transcendent personality; other presidents who followed him were not transformative, and served unremarkably.” 5 likes
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