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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (11,294 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jon Meacham Narrator: Richard McGonagle Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2008 ISBN: 9781415957127
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The definitive biography of a larger-than-life president who defied norms, divided a nation, and changed Washington forever

Andrew Jackson, his intimate circle of friends, and his tumultuous times are at the heart of this remarkable book about the man who rose from nothing to create the modern presidency. Beloved and hated, venerated and reviled, Andrew Jackson was an orphan who fought his way to the pinnacle of power, bending the nation to his will in the cause of democracy. Jackson’s election in 1828 ushered in a new and lasting era in which the people, not distant elites, were the guiding force in American politics. Democracy made its stand in the Jackson years, and he gave voice to the hopes and the fears of a restless, changing nation facing challenging times at home and threats abroad. To tell the saga of Jackson’s presidency, acclaimed author Jon Meacham goes inside the Jackson White House. Drawing on newly discovered family letters and papers, he details the human drama–the family, the women, and the inner circle of advisers– that shaped Jackson’s private world through years of storm and victory.

One of our most significant yet dimly recalled presidents, Jackson was a battle-hardened warrior, the founder of the Democratic Party, and the architect of the presidency as we know it. His story is one of violence, sex, courage, and tragedy. With his powerful persona, his evident bravery, and his mystical connection to the people, Jackson moved the White House from the periphery of government to the center of national action, articulating a vision of change that challenged entrenched interests to heed the popular will– or face his formidable wrath. The greatest of the presidents who have followed Jackson in the White House–from Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt to FDR to Truman–have found inspiration in his example, and virtue in his vision.

Jackson was the most contradictory of men. The architect of the removal of Indians from their native lands, he was warmly sentimental and risked everything to give more power to ordinary citizens. He was, in short, a lot like his country: alternately kind and vicious, brilliant and blind; and a man who fought a lifelong war to keep the republic safe–no matter what it took. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards


  • "An admiring, vividly composed portrait, full of colorful anecdotes and sentimental personal detail. Andrew Jackson's presidency remains controversial; but even those who, like myself, prefer John Quincy Adams's statesmanship to that of Old Hickory will find themselves engaged by Jon Meacham's skillful narrative.
    Daniel Walker Howe, author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History 2008
  • What passes for political drama today pales in the reading of Jon Meacham’s vividly-told story of our seventh president. The rip-roaring two-fisted man of the people, duelist, passionate lover, gambler and war hero, was also a prime creator of the presidency as the fulcrum of executive power to defend democracy…Meacham argues that Jackson should be in the pantheon with Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln for this and for his role in preserving the Union and rescuing democracy from elitism. He makes the historian’s case with wit and scholarship but Meacham also has the novelist’s art of enthralling the general reader much as David McCullough did for the lesser figure of John Adams. Reading “American Lion” one is no longer able to look on the gaunt, craggy face on the $20 bill without hearing the tumult of America in the making. Tina Brown
  • Jon Meacham's splendid new book on Andrew Jackson shrewdly places presidential politics in the context of Jackson's family life -- and vice versa. With an abundance of gripping stories, and with admirable fairness, Meacham offers a fresh portrait of one of the most controversial and consequential men ever to occupy the White House.
    Sean Wilentz, Princeton University, author of The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln

  • "Every so often a terrific biography comes along that shines a new light on a familiar figure in American history. So it was with David McCullough and John Adams, so it was with Walter Isaacson and Benjamin Franklin, so it is with Jon Meacham and Andrew Jackson. A master storyteller, Meacham interweaves the lives of Jackson and the members of his inner circle to create a highly original book. Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
  • “Meacham offers a lively take on the seventh president’s White House years.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “The most readable single-volume biography ever written of our seventh president, drawing on a trove of previously unpublished correspondence to vividly illuminate the self-made warrior who ‘embodied the nation’s birth and youth.’ Such new documents, many unearthed from the archives of the Hermitage, Jackson’s Nashville estate, allow Meacham to offer fresh analysis on the central issues of his presidency…While in the hands of a lesser writer this economics-laden history might glaze a reader’s eyes, Meacham skillfully brings to life such long-forgotten characters as Nicholas Biddle (president of the Second Bank of the United States) and William B. Lewis (second auditor of the Treasury).”

    Washington Post

  • American Lion, Jon Meacham’s carefully analytical biography, looks past the theatrics and posturing to the essential elements of Jackson’s many showdowns. Mr. Meacham…dispenses with the usual view of Jackson as a Tennessee hothead and instead sees a cannily ambitious figure determined to reshape the power of the presidency during his time in office (1829 to 1837). Case by case, Mr. Meacham dissects Jackson’s battles and reinterprets them in a revealing new light.”

    New York Times

  • In magnificent prose, enriched by the author’s discovery of new research materials, Jon Meacham has written an engrossing and original study of the life of Andrew Jackson.  He provides new insights into Jackson’s emotional and intellectual character and personality, and describes life in the White House in a unique and compelling way. Scrupulously researched and vividly written, this book is certain to attract a large and diverse reading public. Robert V. Remini, National Book Award-winning historian and biographer of Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and Daniel Webster
  • Finally, a book that explains our nation's most enigmatic hero, a man who was revered and reviled and little understood. Jon Meacham brilliantly takes us inside the family circle that sustained Andrew Jackson's presidency and provided his steadiness of faith. It's a vivid, fascinating human drama, and Meacham shows how the personal was interwoven with the political. Jackson presided over the birth of modern politics, and this book's brew of patriotism and religion and populism tastes very familiar. In helping us understand Jackson, Meacham helps us understand America. Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe and Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

  • "American Lion is a spellbinding, brilliant and irresistible journey into the heart of Andrew Jackson and his unforgettable circle of friends and enemies.  With narrative energy, flash and devotion to larger issues that are truly Jacksonian, Jon Meacham reveals Old Hickory's complicated inner life and recreates the excitement of living in Jackson's Washington.  Most of all, Meacham's important book shows us how the old hero transformed both the American Presidency and the nation he led. Michael Beschloss, author of Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America 1789-1989
  • Winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Biography/Autobiography
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction, 2008
  • A 2008 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Biography

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rdonn | 2/16/2014

    " My book club on the whole really liked this book, and several were Meacham fans. I found it slow going, with lots of fact, many really interesting, and a feel for the politics of that era. Not much has changed, has it, with politics unbelievably dirty. I didn't get a feel for the man, and certainly had little sympathy with him. I realize he changed a great deal about the running of our country in fact a pivotal figure in our history. A good biography, but not a favorite of mine. Perfect for an American history buff. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ian | 2/10/2014

    " Really enjoyed this one. Andrew Jackson is a fascinating character - the quintessential American self-made man with amazing qualities and damnable flaws. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stephanie Davis-novak | 2/7/2014

    " Overall, a good read. I could have done with less editorializing from the author/narrator. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Terra | 2/4/2014

    " Fascinating and unusual man. However I got bogged down in the details and didn't finish it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tim Norris | 2/2/2014

    " Great storytelling, not too much detail. Jackson was quite a character. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 William | 2/1/2014

    " This book was a very interesting read. I started reading it because Andrew Jackson is one of my favorite presidents. I knew I liked his standing on money, credit and central banks. I had no idea he was also such a dynamic man. I found this book to be lacking in its coverage of Jackson's fight against the central bank. As one of his presidency's biggest issues, the author barely scratches the surface of what proved to be a dirt and hard fought battle against Nicholas Biddle and his apologists. I really liked the authors coverage of the General's character though. Jackson is a man who tended to marginalize the nations elite but was very loved by the people. One of my favorite stories was about a man who was once hunted down by Jackson for a duel, but later became one of his most trusted friends and advisers. A deep thinking political player as well as a fierce family man Jackson is the very definition of the strong american president. A man who would rather be addressed as General than Mr. President, he shaped the current office in ways I didn't understand until I read this book. I regret that many Presidents that I despise took their authority and modeled their abuse using Jackson's presidency as a model for their abuse. I differ with Jackson on many issues that he faced during his presidency but there is no denying his strength of character, for this I am in awe of his accomplishments and legacy. I only wish we had the General back to vanquish our own central bank. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stosh Zawisza | 1/30/2014

    " Very interesting information as the pettyness that existed wtihin Washington even back then. Also, information relatvie to the forced movement of the various Indian tribes that ultimately resulted in thousands of people perishing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Caroline | 1/9/2014

    " Loved it, loved it, loved it. Great insight into the man one guy on MARTA called "an Indian-killing sociopath." Hey, it's never a bad thing to know more about our history. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 JoJami Tyler | 1/8/2014

    " I wanted to love this book and thought that Andrew Jackson makes for a compelling subject, however the author took this feisty American and turned his story into a boring and tedious read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Margaret Sankey | 1/3/2014

    " If he liked you (or you reminded him of his mother), Andrew Jackson had your back. If you crossed him... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tom Schaaf | 12/22/2013

    " Andrew Jackson. Interesting in that he felt the country was first. If he believed that it was best for the country he would fight for it. He would not waiver. It was his way of the highway. He was for slavery and allowed some terrible things to be done to Indians. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kstrumpf | 12/12/2013

    " Great story, well written. Really shed a lot of light on that particular period of history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 April Stephens | 12/2/2013

    " It was pretty good. Not a fast page-turner, but I did learn a lot. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cole Murray | 12/1/2013

    " Fascinating read about the first man to begin shaping the presidency into a powerful branch of our government. He may have been the toughest president America has ever known. So much happened in a lifetime it's somewhat unbelievable. Good research done by Mr. Meacham. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Diane Kennicker | 7/18/2013

    " It was a good book. I really didn't know much about Jackson prior to reading this book other than 'you either love him or hate him'. A very complex man indeed. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katie | 1/18/2013

    " Jackson was a dragon! He broke with Presidential tradition, ignored military ceremony, and even married his wife while she was still married to someone else! This book provided an entertaining glimpse into the life of the hero of New Orleans and the fascinating era of his Presidency. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John E | 10/17/2012

    " Excellent one-volume biography of Jackson with emphasis on his years in the White House. Well worth the time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emilio | 9/15/2012

    " Just finished reading this book. He was an amazing person, and dedicated to serving his country. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elh52 | 3/26/2012

    " What this really did was make me want to find a multi-volume biography of Andrew Jackson. Something you can sink your teeth into. He's such a busy guy that this book reads like a summary - and it is only covers eight years of his life. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Wayne Farris | 2/4/2012

    " Interesting at first but got bogged down in details that finally rendered the book rather boring unless you just have an overriding interest in Andrew Jackson's letters and life that is much stronger than mine. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jaylin | 1/19/2012

    " I hated this book. I don't know why I finished it. I gave it two stars because I learned some history from it but it was boring, jumped from subject to subject and glossed over some pretty horrible things done by Jackson in order to get to praising him. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christian | 1/13/2012

    " It was fun to be reminded that politics never change. The same rivalries and partisanship we see today were already an issue for the 7th President of the USA. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 David Adamek | 11/18/2011

    " too much personal, not enough politics "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Paul Spencer | 11/2/2011

    " Wasn't thrilled with this. But it may be because I wasn't thrilled with Andrew Jackson. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Donald Parker | 9/11/2011

    " Good book. Disappointed at the level of detail and the fact that 39% of the book were notes and references. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dav8d777 | 5/21/2011

    "
    Fantastic yet troubling book about the nation's 7th president. Jackson represented a type of patriotism that was by turns heroic and calloused, but it was always deadly. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 David | 4/25/2011

    " too much personal, not enough politics "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Owen | 4/23/2011

    " An exhausting and thorough analysis of one of America's greatest and defining presidents. Also noted is his reprehensible attitude towards Native Americans and perception of slavery, both products of his cultural upbringing. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Bank | 4/20/2011

    " Being a great fan of Old Hickory, i was really disappointed in this book . It spent far too much time exploring the political intrigues of his administration to the neglect of his many accomplishments which shaped this country. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ian | 4/19/2011

    " Really enjoyed this one. Andrew Jackson is a fascinating character - the quintessential American self-made man with amazing qualities and damnable flaws. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Emma | 4/12/2011

    " Concentrated too much on the soap opera aspect of his presidency. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Roxane | 4/7/2011

    " I just started reading this Andrew Jackson biography the other day, and it's very good. I like Meacham's writing style--and Jackson himself seems to be an charming and rakish figure, as portrayed by Meacham, who will be fun to read about. I'm at about page 35 at this point. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John | 4/2/2011

    " Seems like American History skips over this period quickly. But if Lincoln liked Jackson, I think I will. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Diane | 3/13/2011

    " It was a good book. I really didn't know much about Jackson prior to reading this book other than 'you either love him or hate him'. A very complex man indeed. "

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About the Author
Author Jon Meacham

Jon Meacham is the author of several bestselling books, including Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, a #1 New York Times bestseller named one of the best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, Seattle Times, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Meacham received the Pulitzer Prize for American Lion, his bestselling 2008 biography of Andrew Jackson. Executive editor and executive vice president of Random House, he is also a contributing editor to Time magazine, a former editor of Newsweek, and has written for the New York Times and Washington Post, among other publications. He is a regular contributor on Meet the Press, Morning Joe, and Charlie Rose. A Fellow of the Society of American Historians, Meacham serves on the boards of the New York Historical Society, Churchill Centre, and McCallie School. He is a former trustee and regent of Sewanee: The University of the South, and has served on the vestries of St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue and Trinity Wall Street church in New York City. Born in Chattanooga in 1969, he was educated at The McCallie School and at Sewanee: The University of the South, where he was salutatorian and Phi Beta Kappa. He began his career as a reporter at Chattanooga Times. He and his wife live with their three children in Nashville and Sewanee.

About the Narrator

Richard McGonagle is an Earphones Award–winning narrator and an experienced film, television, and voice-over actor. He has appeared in such films as Rules of Engagement and such television shows as The Practice and JAG.