Author: Jon Meacham
tl;dr:Reading this book during the Trump Presidency is wild. There are so many similarities to how they structured their presidencies, and so many differences.
In Jackson’s time he was almost as revered in American military lore as Washington. He was the hero of New Orleans. Jackson parlayed this popularity into an electoral strategy, as he was the first President to derive his power from popular sentiment. His confidence and mandate to govern stemmed entirely from the people. So the real similarity is they were both populists. The difference being Jackson was, um, the hero of the War of 1812. And one of the best political theorists of his day.
The book itself is both great and bad, earning it a 3-star rating. Usually Pulitzer winners don’t miss but about 30% of the book was infuriatingly boring. The author obsesses over the Petticoat Affair, which was a social scandal that divided Washington in his first term. The tl;dr is that his Secretary of War, Eaton, married a woman (Mary) that was, shall we say, easy. The rest of the elite DC social circuit at the time refused to acknowledge her. He lays out why it was important but it was way overboard for high school drama.
The bank war was the highlight of the book, the author could have expanded on that issue greatly.
Amazon: AMERICAN LION: Andrew Jackson in the White House
First published on September 14, 2020