Stuart's Reviews > American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House

American Lion by Jon Meacham
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Jul 26, 11

bookshelves: 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 addition to being a man of his time, he was full of contradictions. He resented the “aristocracy” for running the country which he believed should be done by the people, but then found himself resented by the opposition as exactly a kind of king himself.

It was interesting to read about AJ’s being the father of the modern presidential campaign, the creation of the Democratic party, his unflinching determination in the face of opposition (and especially in the cause of the Union), set alongside his cruel treatment of Cherokees and Seminoles, and inability to see anything wrong with slavery.

It was also fascinating to understand how a marital scandal split his first cabinet in two, and created a final break with his first vice president, Calhoun, with potential repercussions for the impending Civil War. What if Calhoun had been the second term VP?

I learned a lot, and enjoyed doing it. Four stars.

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