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Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  3,953 ratings  ·  141 reviews
The extraordinary story of Andrew Jackson—the colorful, dynamic, and forceful president who ushered in the Age of Democracy and set a still young America on its path to greatness—told by the bestselling author of The First American.

The most famous American of his time, Andrew Jackson is a seminal figure in American history. The first “common man” to rise to the presidency
Hardcover, 640 pages
Published October 4th 2005 by Doubleday (first published September 6th 2005)
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The Hero of New Orleans, Old Hickory, King Andrew — Andrew Jackson's varied sobriquets belie the daunting task for his potential biographers, and I think H.W. Brands managed to rise to the occasion. Jackson was most definitely a man who contained multitudes, and Brands manages to put it all out there without proselytising.

It's much more difficult to evaluate Andrew Jackson the man than it is the book. Aside from the fact that his legend and legacy have come to represent an array of polarized pos
Jason Koivu
Andrew Jackson, one of the most unqualified US Presidents ever. I respect his military service, but the guy just wasn't cut out for the job.

Brands has put together a solid bio in Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times. Though it did nothing to dissuade my low opinion of his political prowess, I would still recommend this as a good read, especially if you're interested in Jackson.

“Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times” is H.W. Brands’s 2005 biography of our seventh president. Brands is a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and a prolific author. He has written nearly thirty books on a wide range of historical topics, including biographies of Ulysses Grant, Theodore Roosevelt and Aaron Burr. He is also the author of one of my favorite non-biography history books: “Lone Star Nation: The Epic Story of the Battle for Texas Inde
Excellent bio. I flew through this gripping account of one of our more controversial presidents. Jackson looms large in my hometown of Tallahassee. He’s celebrated at our annual spring festival (growing up my family was fairly active as members of a float crew) and he always inspires protest. And of course, as a graduate of Florida State, I’m reminded of his, uh, regional achievements every time I do the Seminole chop.

It’s easy to pick Old Hickory apart in order to reconstruct the man into what
Aaron Million
Workmanlike, somewhat bland account of Andrew Jackson's life. This is not a poorly written book as Brands is a very good writer. However, as a biographer, he seems to lack the style and quality of a Chernow or a Caro. Brands does not reveal any new insights into Jackson's tumultuous life, and the book feels oddly antiseptic to me - I just could not get engrossed in it.

The best part, or parts, of the book is when Brands talks about pressing and important issues that were helping to define Americ
This is the second book I’ve read on Jackson in the last 18 months. For more on the Presidency and less on his former life--take a look at Meacham's book, American Lion. I must admit that issues like Biddle and bank crisis make my eyes glaze over.

One of the exciting things about this book for me was discovering the contexts of Jackson’s life. I tend to view history as this set of discrete facts, tenuously connected by time. But reading Jackson truly highlighted the interconnectedness of it all.
There is no arguing that Brands is an engaging writer and that much of Jackson's story is captivating. The book is at it's best when showing his rise from relative obscurity to nation-wide fame. While Brands is clearly a fan of Jackson, he shows the man's faults, even if he excuses much of them by arguing that he was a man of his times and little more could be expected. I found this approach to be significantly harder to accept once Brands reached Jackson's presidency. The debate over the bank s ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Critics agree that even though there's mild interest in the life of President Andrew Jackson, the author who could spark a forest fire of curiosity would be acclaimed biographer, H. W. Brands, who teaches at the University of Texas at Austin. In tackling the life and times of Jackson, Brands doesn't overlook any of the controversial aspects of "Old Hickory" and his history. Who remembered that Jackson killed a man for disrespecting his wife, was fiercely protective of his honor, and adored veto

Andrew Jackson is a difficult subject, who lived during a difficult time and dealt with difficult issues in a difficult manner. I don't mean to be glib here but if one looks at the issues facing America from the Revolution to the Civil War, Andrew Jackson was seemingly directly or indirectly involved. This author does an excellent job in helping us understand those times, those issues, this man and his decisions. Does Remini's three volume bio of Jackson give us more information on such issues a ...more
Lauren Albert
I was torn between a 3 and a 4 for this. My main criticism is that the book should have had broader coverage of the time since it is called Andrew Jackson: His Life and TIMES. Brands should have given some background, for instance, on the currency issue since it is something very important to Jackson's presidency. But I learned some interesting things--the succession issue came up long before the civil war and didn't have anything to do with slavery but with tariffs. Since the South was a net im ...more
This is a hard book to review because it suffers from two inherent flaws:

1. It is a 560 page single volume biography of a man who lived to be 78 years old. So the author can either write on average 7 pages per year of Jackson’s life or skip through many periods. Obviously the author chooses the latter as after ~100 pages Jackson is already ~30 years old and a Senator from Tennessee. So in trying to cram Jackson’s life into one volume, his childhood is almost completely left alone.

2. Jackson was
Caleb Gibson
A while back my Mother was reading about our family history and discovered that she was related to Andrew Jackson. It was a very amazing discovery for our family! To have a $20 and realize that it is a picture of your cousin is a pretty cool feeling. Because of this my Aunt Peggy had bought this book and gave it to my grandparents. I had always had the desire to read this. And I finally got the chance to. It was very good detailed book of his entire life. When it talks about his life and time, i ...more
There was a lot of interesting history in the early years of the Republic, and Andrew Jackson seemed to be a part of a lot of it. So imagine how interesting it's going to get when I finally get to the part where he becomes President! I always learned a lot about the American Revolution but there were a lot of fascinating things happening in the years immediately after, too. So far I'm only at the lead-up to the War of 1812, before he makes his *big* break, but I can't put this book down. Except ...more
Todd Stockslager
Unique amongst most presidential biographies, which devote the majority of their pages to the pursuit and practice of the presidency, Brands' biography is more personal, devoting only 125 of 525 pages to Jackson's election and presidency, the rest to his full and violent life. This quote from Brands, spoken in context of the nullification (States Right) fight during Jackson's term, could well be his life's epitaph: "Jackson lived in a world of struggle. And the struggle never ended."

Jackson's co
Jim Gallen
I was looking for a good biography of Andrew Jackson and my brother recommended H. W. Brands’ work. It was a very helpful suggestion. This book tells the life history of this fascinating and horrifying, inspiring and repulsing, hero and heel, and what a story it is.

It is the story of a Scotch-Irish frontiersman whose father died before his birth and his mother when Andrew was 14. Growing up in an area where the Revolution was a civil war between Patriot and Tory, the Jacksons threw their lot in
Tom Johnson
For what I learned about the first democrat to become president I should give the book a FIVE but OLD HICKORY could be heavy lifting at times - not for the writing, this is my third book by BRANDS and all three have been first rate - - it's just JACKSON himself - he makes a strong impression, for better or worse - rough times begot rough characters - chock full of original sins, foremost the Slaughter of the natives and the institution of Slavery - not that I should judge those early pioneers it ...more
For many years I have been aware that Andrew Jackson was a controversial figure in history. But I must admit that I was ignorant regarding the details on the man.

This book did a very good job, I think, of correcting this deficiency. Brands presents Jackson in a positive light, but he does provide adequate detail on the arguments and criticisms of Jackson so that his presentation is balanced. I come away from the book appreciating the role Jackson played in our nation's history, and am reminded
Jean Poulos
I have read several biographies about Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) over the years. Jackson was such a controversial and complex man that I thought I would read this new biography by historian H. W. Brands.

Jackson was born into poverty and orphaned at an early age; Jackson was a fighter since he was a preteen. Jackson’s courage under fire was an inspiration to those who fought under him, particularly at the Battle of New Orleans. When Jackson was elected to the presidency he had less education than
This was a excellent biography of Andrew Jackson making a book that could have been boring into a exciting and interesting story of this presidents life. I would recommend it to anyone that is into historical biographies, odds are you will learn facts about Andrew Jackson you may have never known before with this indept bio.
Tome Addiction
Excellent, one of the better Bio's I have read. H.W. Brands has a way about writing that isn't as boring as some of the other historians I have read. More story style with full detail and very well researched.

Excellent. I just saw his new book is on Reagan, can't wait to pick that one up.
Kyle Slavetsky
This biography of General Andrew Jackson is a stunning masterpiece. The depth Mr. Brands takes in this biography and the detail he uses to portray the General is fabulous!

General Jackson is the only early Presidents to be ranked with General Washington in the esteem of his country men. Mr. Brands shows this, and also the Generals firery temper. His love for his wife Rachel Jackson, their controversial marriage (which is still shrowded in mystery to this day) her death and the people he blamed.

This is an interesting and readable biography of a sometimes contradictory subject. As with so many presidential biographies, the “pre-presidential” years are the most interesting, as we learn how Jackson earned his reputation and his chronic injuries. The presidential years dwell somewhat on dry subjects such as the federal bank.

Most interesting about Jackson are his contradictions, he favored states rights and then fought to preserve the union. He knew Indians on a personal level better than a
Matt Muller
I gave 5 stars to Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times. Andrew Jackson is one of my favorite historical figures. The main thing I liked about him was because he was a "tough guy". He wasn't always on the correct side of the issues, but he had an unwavering commitment and passion for this country. We also share a birthday on March 15th, so I think that is pretty neat. This country would not be what it is today without Jackson.
I had a history professor in college whom I remember brought Andrew Jack
H.W. Brands is a prolific author of history/non-fiction, with several critically acclaimed biographies published before the Jackson story, including "T.R." about Theodore Roosevelt, and "Traitor to His Class" about Franklin Roosevelt. He is able to get a ton of detail about Jackson's busy life into this one-volume, 560 pages of text, covering the life of the Seventh President.

Jackson was the first person to become president who was not born into Southern planter aristocracy or Northern Yankee g
Blair Andrews
Andrew Jackson may be the most important American not yet exhumed in the rush to learn from the leading lights of our early history. If so, it makes sense that H.W. Brands is leading the charge toward his rediscovery. For one thing, Brands teaches at the University of Texas at Austin, in a state that might well be an independent republic if not for Jackson. For another, over the past decade Brands has proven himself a bloodhound with a nose for tracking down subjects ahead of the pack. There hav ...more
Steven Peterson
Andrew Jackson was a major figure in American history from his service in the War of 1812 through his presidency. And even in retirement after his departure from Washington, D. C., he was still an important figure in American politics.

His life parallelled the American development from a new nation to one that was rapidly developing during his presidency and thereafter.

This book deals with the highs (military victories, political victories, a great ambition being matched by great accomplishment
Brands is an eminently readable historian. This is my third book of his, and reading each has been time well spent. Jackson strikes me as one of our 10 or so most significant presidents, if one of the two most frightening (TR being the other in the pair). Jackson was our first true Democrat and democrat, and a strong Unionist whose blue print for succession suppression was obviously well-known to Abe Lincoln.

I've frequently called Jackson a mean old bastard for his policy and treatment of nativ
Tim Weakley
One of the areas I had wanted to read about this year was American history and I had the thought that viewing it from the top down might be an interesting way in which to do it. That object prompted me to start looking at things from the point of view of the different Presidents. Jackson covered a time period of which I was not overly familiar and this book looked interesting from the beginning. It really did not disappoint! One of the most interesting aspects of the book was the gradual progres ...more
Wallace Kaufman
For those who like their politicians pure, don't read this dose of reality. For those who know of Jackson only that he was a populist and that his inauguration chaos with its thousands of rude/crude rowdies--this will explain how that came about and that in many ways it signalled the first great democratization of national politics.

Jackson, almost as much as Washington, changed and preserved the on-going process of democratizing America. Sure, he was a slave holder, disobeyed orders as a milita
Enjoyed the book, don't care much for Jackson. Find that while I admire extension of democracy to the "everyman" I don't admire the folks who first championed the extenstion, i.e. Jefferson and Jackson. That's probably blasphomy in reference to Jefferson, but he was the epitomy of the manipulating politician who got others to carry his load while he seemingly stayed out of the fray. His early refusal to come to Philadelphia durikng Washington's first term was a real problem for operation of the ...more
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Henry William Brands was born in Portland, Oregon, where he lived until he went to California for college. He attended Stanford University and studied history and mathematics. After graduating he became a traveling salesman, with a territory that spanned the West from the Pacific to Colorado. His wanderlust diminished after several trips across the Great Basin, and he turned to sales of a differen ...more
More about H.W. Brands...
The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace T.R.: The Last Romantic American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900

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