Ek out other Jackson biographies to get a broader sense of the man This is the second book I ve read on Jackson in the last 18 months For 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 overOne 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 Before reading this book I had no idea of things than I can include here but among them are the following Jackson fought in the Revolutionary War as a boy gritty details of Jackson s Indian escapades Davy Crockett Sam Houston and Andrew Jackson fought together in major Indian battles Jackson married a married woman Jackson illed a man in duel Jackson regularly rubbed shoulders with several well Happy Easter, Mouse! (If You Give...) known nemeses like John Adams Henry Clay and John Calhoun Aaron Burr approached Jackson with designs of treason how nasty political campaigns were clear back then that his wife died after he was elected but before he could get to Washington and that Emily Donelson his niece was first lady the Margaret Eaton affair and its affect on Washington politics this is set out in much great detail in Meacham s book and worth reading for that section alone The Civil War almost began in the 1830 s and but for Jackson and South Carolina s fear of him it probably would have wonder if it would have been better for it to have happened then Sam Houston was Jackson s prot g was a Governor of Tennessee and gave it all up over woman fled to the Texas territory and arose from that debacle like a phoenix Washington Irving used to hang out with Jackson in the White House Roger Taney author the Dred Scott opinion was Jackson s attorney generalAnyway you get the idea The book was full amazing revelations I highly recommend it Update These days I feel much less ambiguous about Andrew Jacksonsuck it Old HickoryThe Hero of New Orleans Old Hickory King Andrew Andrew Jackson s varied sobriuets belie the daunting task for his potential biographers and I think HW 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 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 positions his actions were if not contradictory then at least somewhat confounding It s hard to reconcile things like his adopting a young Native American boy Lyncoya with his presiding over The Trail of Tears So as per usual I ll just offer some assorted points of interest along the Jackson journey Jackson at WarOne might say that Andrew Jackson was born to fight At the ripe old age of thirteen he joined up with the local militia to take part in the Revolutionary War as a courier Young Jackson was willing to back up his anti British beliefs with action Taken prisoner by His Majesty s men Jackson earned himself a taste of steel or whatever swords were made out of back then by refusing to polish the boots of an enemy officer By the time the War of 1812 rolled around Jackson was in command first of the Tennessee militia and then a bunch of other people too This time in addition to those nefarious Brits Jackson and co were also facing off with the Red Stick Creek Indians At this point lessons had been learned when it came to underestimating the military savvy of the Native populations The 1763 assault on British Fort Michilimackinac the swiftness with which the Indians commenced their attacks and the brutality with which they completed them The Brits were lulled into complacency when a large group of Ojibwas gathered outside the fort for a friendly game of lacrosse Suddenly in a move I can t believe they failed to reference in of Heart of Archness the players swapped their lacrosse sticks for war axes hidden beneath the womens skirts and stormed the gate General Jackson did not rule lightly There s the whole suspension of habeas corpus thing martial law in New Orleans the list goes on But there s no denying that Jackson had anack for military leadership Jackson in PoliticsOld Hickory was not a ualified politician in the normal sense of the word Military rule was really his speed Not that dueling was unheard of at the time but Jackson was super into it Brands really breaks down the tactics involved just one of many manifestations of his short temper and obsession with honor The whole lack of experience thing though was spun in Jackson s favor as his being a man of the people He played coy essentially saying he wasn t running but hey if he s what the people wanted then he would have to step up So with or without his consent but not really Andrew I m just like you Jackson was up against three other candidates in the election of 1824 including John uincy Adams If you re any good at reading pie charts you ve figured out that yes in fact Jackson won both the popular and electoral votes However he didn t have the majority reuired and due to caucusing and some wheeling and dealing JA ended up in office However the election of 1828 for better or worse ushered in Jacksonian democracy by a landslide and got good old Andy in office The Bank WarsI Gone (Gone, know I m skipping a lot of interesting and important bits like that whole slavery thing but since Jackson s beef with big banking was new to me I m highlighting it here In fact as with most things at the time the slavery uestion played a big part in Jackson s anti bank stance uick and dirty version Jackson busted out all sorts of novel tools like the veto toeep paper currency from taking hold The political spin on it all was pitting the common man farmers laborers etc against the monied elite and also other stuffJust trying to summarize some of my favorite bits from the book I m all the impressed with how adeptly Brands weaves so much material into a single volume I didn t come away from this a fan of Jackson but that s not an opinion that is necessarily born from this work I definitely plan to check out the likes of American Lion because if anything this book is short on Jackson s White House years They weren t actually from India and thus not Indians but I m forgoing political correctness for clarity here which Brands does in this case so you can blame him Also the source of his adopted son FTR Andrew Jackson believed in democracy that meant for him the rule of the people and in maintaining the union of all the states He had very little formal education and I thought the book failed to explain how he rose to such Heights in spite of a lack of education He became a lawyer and a judge and most notably a military general and then threw his heroism and notoriety the president of United States Although he lived into his 70s he suffered from poor health for much of his life In some ways I would judge him to be the Donald Trump of the 1850s He represented the era of the westward expansion of the United States and the democratization of the electorate has so many men achieve the right to vote by becoming property owners the reuirement of that dayThe plight of Native Americans is de. Showed that the Presidency was not the exclusive province of the wealthy and the well born but could truly be held by a man of the people On a majestic sweeping scale Brands re creates Jackson’s rise from his hardscrabble roots to his days as frontier lawyer then on to his heroic victory in the Battle of New.
Andrew Jackson one of the most unualified 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 Wow Rev War pirates 1814 New Orleans Native Americans thoroughbred racing duels brawls OK Corral style shoot outs Franklin cum Tennessee impromptu international incidents impromptu executions mud slinging campaigns bigamy itchen cabinetry Nullifiers slavery TexasJackson was a one man American History book Messin around doin some things Five stars for sheer activity 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 information on such issues as the elections of 1824 1828 1832 36 Jackson s battles with Biddle and the Whigs the members of the Kitchen Cabinet Attorney GeneralChief Justice Tawney Yes On the other hand I got a much clearer understanding of Jackson the human from this book his becoming an orphan his marriage and its issues dueling leading men in war slavery the American Indians his health issues than I have from the others I have read And no a lot of it is not pretty but it s coherent and understandable in this author s presentation I find Brand s writing in this book and his past books engaging and exciting yeah exciting for a non fiction book The fault in this book is the thin coverage of Andrew Jackson politician and especially AJ President Unclear if the threat of a second volume was an issue here or not If past history is any indicator this author has a nack in leadingdefining trends in biographieshistoryso info on Pres Jackson could be good newsAs an aside check the bibliography secondary sources for some pithy reviewsrecommendations on books covering this era Considered by some the most dangerous man to be President and others as one of their own that deserved the office he ushered in a sea change in Washington and American politics Andrew Jackson His Life and Times by HW Brands follows the future President of the United States from his birth in the South Carolina backcountry to frontier town of Nashville to the battlefields of the Old Southwest then finally to the White House and how he gave his name to an era of American historyBrands begins with a Jackson family history first from Scotland to Ulster then to the Piedmont region of the Carolina where his aunts and uncles had pioneered before his own parents immigrated Fatherless from birth Jackson s childhood was intertwined with issues between the American colonies and Britain then eventually the Revolutionary War that the 13 year old Jackson participated in as a militia scout and guerilla fighter before his capture and illness while a POW After the death of the rest of his family at the end of the war through illness a young Jackson eventually went into law becoming one of the few backcountry lawyers in western North Carolina including Tennessee which was claimed by North Carolina before moving to Nashville and eventually becoming one of the founders of the state of Tennessee and become one of it s most important military and political figures especially with his marriage to Rachel Donelson Eventually Jackson s status as the major general of the Tennessee militia led him to first fight the Creek War part of the overall War of 1812 then after the successful conclusion of the campaign was made a major general of the regular army in charge of the defending New Orleans from British attack which ultimately culminated in the famous 1815 battle that occurred after the signing of the peace treaty in Ghent As the military hero of the war Jackson s political capital grew throughout the Monroe administration even with his controversial invasion of Florida against the Seminole After becoming the first US Governor of Florida Jackson left the army and eventually saw his prospects rise for the Presidency to succeed Monroe leading to the four way Presidential contest of 1824 which saw Jackson win both the popular vote and plurality of electoral college votes but lose in the House to John uincy Adams The campaign for 1828 began almost immediately and by the time of the vote the result wasn t in doubt Jackson s time in the White House was focused on the Peggy Eaton affair the battle over Bank of the United States the Nullification Crisis with South Carolina Indian relations and finally what was happening in Texas After his time in office Jackson struggled All Seated on the Ground keeping his estate out of debt andept up with the events of around the country until his deathIn addition to focusing on Jackson s life Brands make sure to give background to the events that he would eventually be crucial part of Throughout the book Brands eeps three issues prominent Unionism slavery and Indian relations that dominated Jackson s life andor political thoughts While Brands hits hard Jackson s belief in the Union and is nuanced when it comes with slavery the relations with Indians is well done in some areas and fails in some most notably the Trail of Tears This is not a biography focused primarily on Jackson s time in the White House and thus Brands only focused on the big issues that is primarily focused on schools instead of an intense dive into his eight years Andrew Jackson His Life and Times is a informative look into the life of the seventh President of the United States and what was happening in the United States throughout his nearly eight decades of life HW Brands writing style is given to very easy reading and his research provides very good information for both general and history specific readers though he does hedge in some areas Overall a very good biography 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 could be expected I found this approach to be significantly harder to accept once Brands reached Jackson s presidency The debate over the bank system gets far attention than issues of eual if not greater importance like Jackson s policy towards Native Americans I found it hard to accept that actions that led to the infamous Trail of Tears could be dealt with in a way that left Jackson seeming as little than a man of consistent and pragmatic views towards these people Not that I want to see Jackson cast as a villain exactly I just felt like Brands rushed past these difficult moments because they got in the way of a positive depiction of a complicated and fascinating man I d recommend the book overall mostly because of Brands s engaging style I would do so however with the suggestion that readers se. National Bestseller In this the first major single volume biography of Andrew Jackson in decades HW Brands reshapes our understanding of this fascinating man and of the Age of Democracy that he ushered inAn orphan at a young age and without formal education or the family lineage of the Founding Fathers Jackson.
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Alt with significantly throughout the book Jackson fought the Indians and as president but they should be moved west of the Mississippi into their own territories The infamous trail of tears occurred on his watch as the Seminoles were forced to move west Jackson is another of the presidents who was a slave owner owning about 150 slaves at the end of his lifeI experienced this book in the audible format It was well presented An aspect of history that was included in some detail was Jackson s opposition to the national bank and his effort to replace it with state banks Jackson remained active in national politics after his two terms as president The next President Martin Van Buren was essentially handpicked by Jackson and a carbon copy John uincy Adams who defeated Jackson with the aid of some political shenanigans in their first contest remained a lifetime political enemyThis is a very long book and I m sure the fact that I experienced it in the audible format is a main reason that I got through to the end The author notes at the conclusion that the spelling throughout the book has been converted to a modern format to save the reader from having to struggle with the very personalized and invented spelling that dominated Jackson s efforts Andrew Jackson His Life and Times is HW 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 Independence Although I find myself somewhat disappointed by this biography of Jackson it is certainly not without merit Indeed Brands s biography is a solid steady exploration of Jackson s life and its many contradictions and crescendos However after reading several earlier biographies of this president I m not sure what new insight or analysis Brands offers and as a result why a reader new to this president should choose Brands s biography over othersTo its credit Brands s biography does a much better job than most biographies in providing the reader with a broad relevant historical framework within which to place Jackson and his actions Where other biographies assume the audience is aware by whatever means of the events of importance taking place in the nation s capital while Jackson is roaming the frontier Brands never leaves such nowledge to chance Instead he is careful to ensure the reader is cognizant of important moments in our nation s history that impacted the political and economic climate in which Jackson operatedIn addition Brands s uest to add context to his discussion of Jackson s life also leads to his inclusion of a number of topics and characters I have not read about in previous presidential biographies Among these are useful snippets regarding Alexis de Tocueville s trip to America a tactical analysis of dueling which was a favored form of dispute resolution in Jackson s early life a helpful explanation of the issues surrounding British impressment of American sailors and colorful descriptions of Davy Crockett Sam Houston and Jean Lafitte each of whom the reader uickly agrees deserve vibrant and spirited introductionsHowever for all I liked about Brands s biography I found it far from ideal First given his propensity for describing lesser Wiring known historical figures thoroughly in vivid language he is surprisingly deficient in his introduction of critical characters such as Martin Van Buren the Little Magician who was to Andrew Jackson much as Karl Rove was to George Bush Other lessernown but eually critical players are left poorly introduced as well such as Amos Kendall and Francis Blair who formed the core of Jackson s Kitchen Cabinet and were each tremendously important to the story of Jackson s presidencySecond certain historical events are less well covered than seems appropriate such as Jackson s decision to replace nearly his entire initial Cabinet causing no small degree of controversy within the Senate as well as the presidential campaigns of 1824 and 1828 Brands treatment of the former feels needlessly rushed almost perfunctory while his description of the latter seems woefully incomplete with almost no attention dedicated to Van Buren s masterful behind the scenes advocacy of Jackson s candidacyStylistically I tend to enjoy a smoothly flowing narrative style of writing than that which Brands offers in his Andrew Jackson This biography often seems like a collection of detailed highly factual but not particularly opinionated newspaper articles they are individually informative but collectively lack a seamless cohesive story or theme In fact while reading Brands s biography a new student of Jackson might actually be unaware of the overwhelming historical significance of Jackson s presidency and his numerous accomplishmentsBrands seems to prefer for the facts speak for themselves but at the cost of allowing a less attentive reader to miss the forest for the trees If you are not a sophisticated student of history or had not previously read Remini or Maruis James you might inadvertently miss the awe inspiring significance of Jackson s expansion of the power of the presidency made even dramatic by his previous distaste for a strong federal government And unlike most other Jackson biographers Brands does not take Jackson to task for being a slaveowner or for his brutal treatment of the IndiansFinally Brands s most thoughtful impressions and perspectives of Jackson are left to the last six or eight pages of the book These are easily the most valuable pages of his biography and are among the most insightful pages of any of the presidential biographies I ve yet read But the wisdom they impart comes too late to appropriately augment the wisdom contained in the previous five hundred plus pages Even a measured sprinkling of this insight across the previous chapters of the book would have been incredibly usefulOverall HW Brands s Andrew Jackson is a good but not great biography of Andrew Jackson His writing style failure to highlight important themes throughout the book and a few curious omissions are contributing factors Subjectively the most disappointing issue for me was the fact that I rarely found moments when I simply could not put the book down Although Brands s biography is detailed workman like and free of bias for me it does not provide enough analysis or insight and its emphasis seems to be on presenting topics accurately rather than with passion and interpretationOverall rating 3 stars I will admit up front to a certain bias against Andrew Jackson I side with many of his contemporary critics on a number of his successes Jackson was a man who believed first and foremost in his own righteousness and infallibility By the time he was president he truly believed that he was the mouthpiece for the people and was perfectly happy to stomp over whatever political or legal barricades were put up to stop himThis book claims to be an unbiased account and there are reviews of it that praise it s objectivity but I can t agree with them Brands does certainly bring up many of Jackson s faults but he doesn t leave Orleans and finally to the White House Capturing Jackson’s outsized life and deep impact on American history Brands also explores his controversial actions from his unapologetic expansionism to the disgraceful Trail of Tears This is a thrilling portrait in full of the president who defined American democracy.
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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