Merry Wanderer of the Night + TIME

Guest Review: The American Lion by Jon Meacham

The guest reviewer for this post is none other than my husband, John. John is a huge fan of politics, so when I heard about the blog tour for American Lion

I knew he'd be interested! So everyone, please welcome John to Jenn's Bookshelf!

Hello to all the dedicated and casual readers of Jenn’s Bookshelf. I was somewhat perplexed and surprised that Jenn asked me to write this guest review. Unlike my wife, I read not for entertainment, but for information. However, I found Jon Meacham’s American Lion

reached both objectives and should be an interesting read to virtually anyone who chooses to open the cover.

Andrew Jackson is, arguably, one of the most controversial presidents ever to occupy the residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Some have described Jackson as one of the best executives of an early United States to lead the country; second only to George Washington. Others have portrayed him as a bully on the cusp of tyranny, capable of viewing the world only from the lens of his own narrow convictions. While many of his contemporaries considered our seventh President to be a simple man with a less than honorable background, Mr. Meacham illustrates a complex man, full of contradictions that continue to fuel the controversial perception of President Jackson even today.

Meacham continually portrays Jackson as a man, who orphaned as a young boy was determined to make his way in life of his own accord. Yet, Jackson places the highest regard on the institution of family, both his own personal, as well as the national “family” he sought to represent and defend. Additionally, Meacham describes a singularly devoted husband, who defends the honor of his wife against political adversaries; even though Jackson engaged in courting her and potentially married her while, she was married to another man. Jackson also earns a reputation as a determined General, brutally leading battles against Indians on the frontier to protect the interests of American citizens. Nevertheless, he shows compassion by taking as his own adopted son, the orphan of a fallen adversary, only to later lead the charge as President of removing all Indians, east of the Mississippi river, from their ancestral lands and transplanting them in the west for the economic benefit of the American people.

Mr. Meacham offers a very personal view, given through the observations and writings from family, adversaries and compatriots, of the transition of a nation from infancy to adolescence. The multiple accounts from the various players of the time provide an intimate perspective of Jackson. They describe the man that they know personally, not just the President of the United States. The book demonstrates his generosity and stubbornness, along with nobility and character flaws. We remember most presidents for a single dominant trait that defines them and/or their administration. Washington was gallant; Lincoln was melancholy; Teddy Roosevelt was relentless; FDR was a manager of crisis; Kennedy was regal; Reagan was a great communicator and Clinton was a persuasive pragmatist. Jackson demonstrates each of these traits, for better or worse throughout the course of his life. Meacham captures the full measure of the man, letting these traits shine through in a balanced manner rather than a vehicle of praise or condemnation.

I highly recommend this book. It will capture the interest of the most ardent historian to the individual looking for a good tale for an escape. The book will touch you on many emotional levels, causing you to laugh all the way to cringing in embarrassment. Most of all you will learn much more than the standard information passed to us as history in our youth. Do read and enjoy.

Thank you, John, for the review! Also, thank you to Pump Up Your Book Promotions for allowing me to join the blog tour, and the publisher for providing John a review copy of the book!

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Guest Review: The American Lion by Jon Meacham + TIME