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American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  46,235 ratings  ·  1,752 reviews
The definitive biography of a larger-than-life president who defied norms, divided a nation, and changed Washington forever

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 orpha
Hardcover, First edition, 483 pages
Published November 11th 2008 by Random House
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  46,235 ratings  ·  1,752 reviews

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Dec 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 rated it did not like it
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
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
My mouth agape, I could not believe what I had just heard. “What?”

“You heard me, Jackson was a genocidal murderer and should not be praised.”

It was the early 1990s, I was a young recent college grad, having been born and raised around Nashville, Tennessee and this was the first time in my life I had ever heard anyone speak of Andrew Jackson with anything short of admiration and respect.

This was the first, but by no means the last time I would hear criticisms of him or his presidency.

Many of the
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jon Meacham won a Pulitzer Prize for this biography of Andrew Jackson, America's seventh president. Jackson was certainly an intriguing subject. He's known as an advocate for the "common man" and for fighting against corruption, but he is also known for owning slaves and for supporting the removal of native Americans from their lands. Jackson was a man of his time, to be sure.

When I learned the author was coming to my city to do a reading for his latest book, The Soul of America, I prepared for
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Jackson was a transformative president in part because he had a transcendent personality"
- Jon Meacham, American Lion


A solid history of a complicated man. One of the more influential Presidents, Jackson can and should be both praised and condemned. In many ways, he epitomized our young nation. Problematic, in the extreme, in regards to Native Americans and slaves, energetic, complicated, narcissistic, driven, and not to be trifled with. Jackson is often revered by Presidents who want to appear
Feb 27, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Not all great presidents were always good.”

I purchased “American Lion” after a November 2016 visit to the Hermitage (Jackson’s plantation outside Nashville, Tennessee). Growing up a history buff I had known a lot about Andrew Jackson, but had largely ignored him after my teenage years. That 2016 visit, and the realization that it reminded me of-that there is indeed “nothing new under the sun”, rekindled my interest.
As I read the book, as when I was at the Hermitage, the parallels to modern tim
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"History has been ransacked to find examples of tyrants sufficiently odious to illustrate him by comparison. Language has been tortured to find epithets sufficiently strong to paint him in description. Imagination has been exhausted in her efforts to deck him with revolting and inhuman attributes. tyrant, despot, usurper; destroyer of the liberties of his country; rash ignorant, imbecile; endangering the public peace with all foreign nations; destroying domestic prosperity at home..."

While some
Jan 03, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was hoping this would be a bit more critical, but it was a hagiography of a very complicated and problematic president. Meacham does not let him getaway with his treatment of the Native Americans or his slaves (the latter he barely even talks about). There is this assumption in the book that the territorial expansions were all good. I don't think anyone would come out and say that the ends justify the means, but while Jackson is critiqued for his treatment of the natives or Mexicans inhabiting ...more
Brad Lyerla
Jan 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jay Schutt
Sep 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Jackson had his faults, but he was a true American hero and patriot. The book was very well done. Recommended.
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I like Jon Meacham better than I do Andrew Jackson. Other reviewers here on Goodreads have said all the important things that I would say and more about his book, “American Lion”. Anyway here’s my 2 cents worth:

Jackson was not one of the greatest presidents, in my opinion. Even so, he was a stubborn leader with fixed views; and like most absolutists, he would not recant and forged ahead with his determined programs, thereby saving the Presidency and ultimately the nation as the future would prov
Oct 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
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
Bob Mayer
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Given current events, this book is timely to read. Jackson did some terrible things, most particularly the treatment of Native Americans. But he also kept the Union together in the face of huge dissent. Of course, that only delayed the Civil War and kept another generation in chains.

The big takeaway is that no matter his faults, his primary concern was for the country and the people. If only modern politicians would do so, rather than focusing on their own enrichment and egos.
Cassidy Cassidy
Dec 04, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
I somehow managed to make it to the end of the book. It read like a college paper that needed a minimum word count. The author seemed to speak in circles, and occasionally, speak down to his audience. Some writers can string a story along, and some (like this one) can't. The research was excellent, but the storytelling had me struggling to finish. Loved the pictures. ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
This biography was a bit too obsessed with its subject in my opinion. Jackson, for all his "saving the Union" discourse, was instrumental in pushing a southern slavery agenda and destroying the American Indians that remained west of the Mississippi, and this book mentions these things in passing and not in depth. On the other hand, we get excruciating details about his personal relationships (although relatively little discussion of the Kitchen Cabinet.) I think that Meacham spent too much time ...more
American Lion is a biography on Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States. There is not much detail on Jackson’s life before his presidency; it mostly focuses on his two terms in office.

I learned a lot about this period of American history. There were many firsts and much drama that occurred during Jackson’s presidency: the petticoat affair, the longest Indian war, the first president to be physically attacked, and the list goes on. I didn’t feel like I got to know Jackson as a
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
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am on a quest to read at least one book about each of the 45 presidents. (Yes, even Trump).

I learned alot about Jackson as I read this.

Rather than enumerate what I learned, please read this book to find out for yourself.

This book primarily covers the years of Jackson's presidency 1829 - 1837.

I was happy to learn about the more personal aspects of Jackson's life.

Some of what happened during his presidency was not quite so engaging. (Good, but just a litany of facts of what happened).

Suffice it
Oct 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
A mini biography of Jackson's time as president. I have come to admire what good he did accomplish, although his beliefs in Indian removal and slavery will always mark him as an imperfect man. ...more
Robert Owen
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: american-history
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
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is how a presidential biography should be written! Rather than an overly long, tedious account of boring minutiae, just tell the reader the critical events that made the president into the type of leader they became. All I ever really knew about Pres. Jackson was his involvement in the Battle of New Orleans and that he was known as "Old Hickory." This bio helps you come to know what made Andrew Jackson tick and his unique temperament that sometimes helped his ambition yet caused him grief a ...more
Jan 20, 2009 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Helga Cohen
This is a good history of Andrew Jackson and his time in the White House. He was the first president outside the founders of our country as the 7th president and came from the south. This book describes the tumultuous times during his presidency. Meacham does a good job narrating how Andrew Jackson came into his power to become president arising out of poverty and tells the story of his 8 years in the White House.

Jackson was elected as president in 1828. He changed the office forever. The peop
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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.

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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)” 23 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.” 8 likes
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