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American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  36,905 ratings  ·  1,521 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 ...more
Paperback, 483 pages
Published April 30th 2009 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2008)
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Christine
Dec 02, 2008 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
Diane
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Joe
Feb 07, 2014 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
...more
Gillian
Jan 03, 2009 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.
Darwin8u
Apr 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Jackson was a transformative president in part because he had a transcendent personality"
- Jon Meacham, American Lion

description

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
...more
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
"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
...more
Brad Lyerla
Jan 21, 2013 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
Brian
Oct 30, 2011 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
Mehrsa
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Bob Mayer
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
...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
Matt
Oct 07, 2015 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
Celia
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
...more
Katy
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
David K. Lemons
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Brian
Oct 23, 2009 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
...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
...more
Karla
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
...more
Sara
Jan 20, 2009 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.
Jennifer
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
...more
Sara
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
...more
Jeremy Perron
Mar 07, 2014 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
Donna
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As the first southerner and the first president outside the circle of the Founders, Andrew Jackson’s years in the White House marked a turning point in that office. He saw himself as a champion of the people to whom he owed his direct allegiance, unfiltered by Congress or manipulated by the Bank. He used his power of the veto in bold new ways. Meacham portrays Jackson as shrewd, stubborn perhaps to a fault, and fiercely patriotic.

Jackson’s first term was overshadowed by the Eaton affair, a scand
...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
Scott
Mar 23, 2009 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
...more
Ernie Dixon
Apr 24, 2017 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.
thethousanderclub
Nov 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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.
“Always take all the time to reflect that circumstances permit, but when the time for action has come, stop thinking. (Andrew Jackson)” 19 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.” 6 likes
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