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The Age of Jackson

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  2,162 ratings  ·  46 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, 576 pages
Published September 15th 2005 by Konecky & Konecky (first published January 1946)
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Vincent
Mar 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Christopher Saunders
Arthur Schlesinger's The Age of Jackson was, for a long time, the definitive account of Andrew Jackson's presidency and antebellum American politics. Writing in 1945, Schlesinger stresses the supposed egalitarianism of Jacksonian Democracy; he clearly views Old Hickory as a proto-FDR using the power of the presidency to thwart reactionary opposition, from an ossified Supreme Court to Whigs in Congress. Schlesinger, as always, is a fluid and engaging writer who provides lively vignettes of Jackso ...more
Jim Gallen
Mar 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
“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
...more
Matt
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: pulitzer, nonfiction
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
...more
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
Jack T
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I chose this book because I love History, American History, World History, whatever kind of History you name it I am on board. I love history because of learning about what our ancestors and past figures have done to create and progress the world, our country, and our lives. I had recently started to learn about Andrew Jackson when choosing what new book to read and this book caught my eye. My teacher told me he had a fascinating life and there is so much he could talk about for his life and dec ...more
Leonard Nakamura
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Robert Shaw
The Age of Jackson is a novel documenting the massive populist movement that begins because of Andrew Jackson. The book descriptively explains every issue and event that occurs during the time right before this era, the actual presidency of Jackson, and the populist era that occurs after Jackson’s presidency.
The first part of the book is about the early stages of America after the ratification of the Constitution. This section talks mostly about the federalist vs. anti-federalist debate. The ne
...more
Steve
Sep 23, 2013 rated it liked it
http://bestpresidentialbios.com/2013/...

“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
...more
Clif
Dec 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
...more
Nathan
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 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
...more
Elizabeth
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.
Ryan Thorpe
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Well, this is an expansive book. Schlesinger describes the evolution of the American liberal tradition from Jefferson thru Jackson and the civil war. In this attempt, though a serious history book, it is first and foremost an abstract argument that uses history as its data, rather than a primary effort to reveal the character and foibles of individuals within history. So I think the book should be evaluated as a historically motivated political philosophy rather than a detailed history and it do ...more
Streator Johnson
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Not really a biography per se, it more a political study of a particular time in our nation's history. In fact, it is probably the best book on politics that I have ever read. A fascinating study of the times leading up, during and after Andrew Jackson was president. Written in 1945 by the then 27 year old Arthur Schlesinger, it went on to deservedly win the Pulitzer Prize. What is truly amazing about the book is that its similarities and stark differences with events happening today are almost ...more
Jack
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Andrew Jackson was one of those Presidents that you sorta know about, but you don't really know about until you've read a history of him. While this one by Schlesinger isn't the best, it's a good overview of his Presidency (but not his life).

Just to give you a taste: Jackson was not well-liked among the financial aristocracy of his time. He distrusted banks - most especially the Central Bank (now known as the Federal Reserve Bank) and did everything in his power to thwart them - making it amusin
...more
Christopher
Nov 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
The Age of Jackson ultimately proved too dense and philosophical to enjoy. This book is not for the faint of heart and will absolutely test your attention span, much like the Julius Caesar bio I read within the past few years. Schleisenger has no discernible central thesis, and the book covers some notably narrow and tedious subjects (including for ex. the political machinations of western Massachusetts hard money/hardliner democrats). This book is more a study of the shifting ideologies of Amer ...more
Kevin
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: u-s-presidents, 2018
The title of the book is very accurate, this is not a biography of President Jackson, but rather, a review of the era that bears his name. The banking war takes up the majority of the book and is an incredibly interesting fight to read about. The fights between business and worker, and the split of the political parties in the lead up to the civil war were less substantive but equally gripping.

Unfortunately, there was absolutely no mention of the trail of tears or anything at all about the Nativ
...more
Jay Wright
Jan 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Why is Andrew Jackson not respected today? Schlesinger is a liberal and while this is not a biography it is a brilliant work on the period from 1824 to 1860. Without Jackson, the Republican party and the freeing of the slaves does not occur. Jackson was for the common man. In his tenure, federal contracts limited workers to 10 hour days. Jackson supported the rise of free labor. He fought the "aristocracy' that was reflected by the National Bank. He was an advocate for the farmer and the wage la ...more
Talmadge Walker
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not so much a biography of Andrew Jackson as a portrayal of the times in which he wielded influence. The bulk of the book discusses the issues of banking & currency, tariffs, and labor, and the shifting political alignments involved in those discussions, so if you're not interesting in 19th century political economy questions you probably will not enjoy this book. For me , the single downside to the book was there was no mention of relations with native Americans and the Indian Removal Act, but ...more
Marcus Ellard
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an important history of the events leading up to, during, and immediately after the presidency of Andrew Jackson. Schlesinger was exhaustive in his research, and brilliantly laying out significant issues, and transformations of American culture that have a legacy lasting into this century. Unfortunately his final chapters strayed from the disciplined historian and were increasingly coloured by his political ideals of the mid-20th century.
This is a great read, despite its minor flaws.
Jdb
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it
I would have rated this 4 stars except for the fact that the writing is very choppy and I often found it a slog, rereading to capture the main point....obviously the Pulitzer Prize committee didn’t value the writing as highly as the subject matter.

The most interesting point of the book for me is the realization that the major issues in today’s American politics are not new...they were hotly debated in the 1830-1850 era....the wealthy and their ties to government versus the working man....private
...more
Mark Bowles
Aug 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Tom Schulte
Sep 02, 2012 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
Kay
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
...more
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
...more
Barry Bridges
May 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Brendan
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
...more
Michael Laflamme
Mar 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
What a read! It screams like today's headlines. The same 2 sides bashing each other over corporatism, labor rights, political equality, aristocracy, monopoly, money in elections. If you thought we only just started talking about democracy and the Constitution, think again. The sheer amount of research in this book, before the internet, is a monumental labor. Almost all the footnotes, at the bottom of each page, are attributions. Some to newspapers and editorials from 1830-1840. Many notes refere ...more
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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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