Monday, November 10, 2008

The Life of Andrew Jackson by Robert Remini

I picked this up to fill in some gaps about American politics in the first half of the 19th century. It is an abridgement of a three book set that won the National Book Award in 1984.

From the beginning, Jackson's life was an adventure. He fought in the Revolution at 13 and was orphaned in the same year. He fought duals, had a controversial romantic life, fought Indians and the British, and reshaped American political and governmental life. It is a life that a fiction script writer would risk criticism for inserting so many near-death experiences, national firsts and bigger than life characteristics. He is justifiably controversial for having elevated the presidency to its modern executive status, for moving almost all eastern native American tribes to lands west of the Mississippi, for balancing the budget for the first time since the Revolution, changing national banking practices, etc.

When I read about FDR last month I came away with mixed emotions due to his character flaws and strengths combined with some governmental successes. He pales in comparison to Jackson, both for his flaws, his strengths, and his governmental outcomes. What was most surprising was the many similarities to issues that were addressed in this last election. Jackson took actions that reminded me of Bush, except Jackson was more courageous and competent. He also took stands that Democrats would applaud, especially since he created the Democratic party. He probably reminds me most of Teddy Roosevelt but is a unique individual. You will not be bored with this story and will come away with an excellent understanding of people like Calhoun, Clay, Webster, J.Q. Adams, and those presidents who followed Jackson into the 1840's. A worthwhile read and one that will leave me thinking about a president's place in the American governmental triumvirate for a long time.

1 comment:

Becky said...

This sounds like an interesting one. Though I don't know how many more books I can add to this ever-growing list!