The extraordinary story of Andrew Jackson-the colorful, dynamic, and forceful president who ushered in the Age of Democracy and set a still young America on its path to greatness-told by the bestselling author of The First American.The most famous American of his time, Andrew Jackson is a seminal figure in American history. The first "common man" to rise to the presidency, Jackson embodied the spirit and the vision of the emerging American nation; the term "Jacksonian democracy" is embedded in our national lexicon.With the sweep, passion, and attention to detail that made The First American a Pulitzer Prize finalist and a national bestseller, historian H.W. Brands shapes a historical narrative that's as fast-paced and compelling as the best fiction. He follows Andrew Jackson from his days as rebellious youth, risking execution to free the Carolinas of the British during the Revolutionary War, to his years as a young lawyer and congressman from the newly settled frontier state of Tennessee.
Historian Brands, author of the bestselling The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin, now turns to Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), illuminating both the mettle of a fascinating leader and the crucible in which American democracy was forged. A military hero during the War of 1812 and winner of the popular presidential vote in 1824 (he lost the election in Congress), Jackson won the office handily in 1828. Brands argues that the populist Jackson changed the very nature of the presidency, vetoing more bills than all six of his predecessors combined; thwarting the bank of the United States; and in a dramatic test of wills, preparing for civil war when South Carolina threatened to secede over tariffs. He died at the age of 78, just days after learning that Texas would join the union. Although Brands lacks the narrative flair of David McCullough, his effort is intensely engaging. He meticulously renders Jackson's life, his ugly massacres of Indians as well as his triumphs, with unflinching detail. He also conveys the vagaries of war, life on the frontier, the perilous state of the union and the brass-knuckles politics of the day. The result is a bracing, human portrait of both a remarkable man and of American democracy as it was transformed from a "government of the people" into a "government by the people." Agent, Jim Hornfischer. (On sale Oct. 18) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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October 03, 2005
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Excerpt from Andrew Jackson by H.W. Brands
The struggle for North America began long before Andrew Jackson was born. Like similar struggles on all the inhabited continents, it ran back millennia, perhaps to the moment humans first found their way across the Arctic plain from Asia. Oral tradition and archaeological evidence indicate that conflict was a regular feature of life among the North Americans. They fought for forests where the game was most abundant, for rivers where the fish were thickest, for bottomlands where their corn and beans and squashes grew most readily. Great warriors were the heroes of their tribes, emulated by other men, sought by women, hallowed in memory. Strong tribes expanded their territories, driving the weak to less-favored regions and sometimes to extinction. Diplomacy complemented military force: the Iroquois confederation made that alliance a terror to its neighbors.
The arrival of the Europeans added new elements to the competition. These far-easterners possessed weapons the aboriginals hadn't seen: steel knives, swords, and axes; muskets and rifles; cannon. But their most potent agents of conquest were ones neither they nor their victims understood: the pathogens to which long exposure had inured the Europeans but that devastated the native Americans. In many instances the novel diseases raced ahead of European settlers, who arrived to discover human deserts and concluded that the Christian God in his wisdom and power had prepared the way for their colonies.
But the diseases didn't kill all the Indians. Those who survived often welcomed the interlopers, at least at first. Especially after smallpox and the other epidemics killed as many as three-fourths of the members of the afflicted tribes, there seemed room enough for all. And the newcomers' traders brought goods the natives quickly learned to value: iron pots, which bested clay for durability; steel blades, which held an edge longer than flint or obsidian; rifles, which felled game at distances arrows couldn't reach and gave their possessors an advantage in battle over tribes that lacked them. Some purists among the Indians rejected everything European, but most of the natives adapted happily to the improved lifestyle the new technology brought.