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Excellent bio I flew through this gripping account of one of our controversial presidents Jackson looms large in my hometown of Tallahassee He s celebrated at our annual spring festival growing up my family was fairly active as members of a float crew and he always inspires protest And of course, as a graduate of Florida State, I m reminded of his, uh, regional achievements every time I do the Seminole chop It s easy to pick Old Hickory apart in order to reconstruct the man into whatever symbol fits your interpretation of his place in history His ruthless expansionist policies his fanatical service to the military that tireless advancement of populism the unflinching devotion to the idea of Union and his many personal failings, eccentricities, and contradictions all afford the lesser historian or perhaps one with an ax to grind an opportunity to paint Jackson w a broad brush Not here This book does not shy away from any aspect of its subject, and presents a complex and uncompromised final portrait Overall, Brand s analysis neither flatters, nor condemns Credit is given when due fault assigned likewise How we judge the impact of his policies is one thing, but one cannot overstate the importance of Jackson.Side note Brand does a great job foreshadowing the catastrophic events that would divide our country in the decades after Jackson s presidency and death There s a palpable sense disaster lurking within the text of the closing chapters. Andrew Jackson His Life and Times is H.W 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 others.To 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 knowledge 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 operated.In addition, Brands s quest 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 Tocqueville 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 quickly agrees, deserve vibrant and spirited introductions.However, for all I liked about Brands s biography, I found it far from ideal First, given his propensity for describing lesser 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 lesser known, but equally 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 presidency.Second, 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 candidacy.Stylistically 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 accomplishments.Brands 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 Marquis 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 Indians.Finally, 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 useful.Overall, H.W 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 interpretation.Overall rating 3 stars 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 requirement of that day.The plight of Native Americans is dealt 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 life.I 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 Quincy Adams who defeated Jackson with the aid of some political shenanigans in their first contest remained a lifetime political enemy.This 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. 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 equal 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 seek 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 over.One 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 killed a man in duel Jackson regularly rubbed shoulders with several well known nemeses, like John Q 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 general.Anyway, you get the idea The book was full amazing revelations I highly recommend it. 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, kitchen 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 General Chief 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 knack in leading defining trends in biographies history,so info on Pres Jackson could be good news.As an aside check the bibliography secondary sources for some pithy reviews recommendations on books covering this era. 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 him.This 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 it to the reader to decide if those faults were mortal or not he spends a lot of time defending Jackson s actions from Jackson s point of view Ignoring the Supreme Court Well here I paraphrase Jackson really believed it would be better for the indians to live separately from the whites I m sure he did believe that, even earnestly But what a silly defense for the Trail of Tears.The positives of this book are that it is thorough, and that it does not cover up Jackson s actions, just comes up with excuses for him It is not at all impossible to come out of this with a conclusion different than the author, although I have some major issues with describing Lincoln as a Jacksonian He was an odd Jacksonian because he wasn t a Jacksonian, Brands Believing in the Union was not somehow a singularly Jacksonian idea.I don t know if this is the best biography of Jackson out there, but it is a good one I just encourage you to read it with a grain of salt. Andrew Jackson, one of the most unqualified 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. `READ E-PUB ⇱ Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times ↵ 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 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 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