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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (11,312 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jon Meacham Narrator: John H. Mayer Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2008 ISBN: 9780739334591
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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


  • "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

  • "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
  • “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

  • 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
  • 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
  • Winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Biography/Autobiography
  • New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction, 2008
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • A 2008 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Biography

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Glenn Gutmacher | 2/13/2014

    " Excellent profile of an under-understood president. If you look at his world from the context he lived in, you can better understand the decisions he made, some of which would not have been tolerated in today's culture, but clearly superior at manipulating Congress to fulfill a well-articulated vision/agenda than our recent presidents have been. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Douglas | 2/2/2014

    " meh. a pretty lightweight examination of the Jackson Administration. totally lacks depth, and spends WAY more pages on a social scandal in D.C. than on some of the more important issues of the time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Albert | 1/28/2014

    " This was a totally engrossing book not only about the precedents (not all well known) set by AJ, but also his turbulent personal life while in the White House. I was struck how he was the first prez to be attacked by would-be assassins; that tells you something about him. And of course he was the first to really use the power of the veto, and raised the importance of the office to a new level -- before him, Washington DC was a lot more distant from our daily lives than it is now, if that's possible. He was responsible for the atrocity of the Trail of Tears, but it now seems if he didn't do it, another prez would have. Also striking is how his being an orphan has made him such a passionate Commander in Chief to the country he saw as an extension to his own family. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Andy Fry | 1/2/2014

    " Just not a great piece of writing. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lynne | 12/22/2013

    " I will finish it but so far is not what I expected. I am a big fan of bios but this is skimming the surface. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alan Tulppo | 10/7/2013

    " Meacham provides the reader with an interesting and at times fascinating glance at the life of Andrew Jackson and how he impacted the presidency and the nation. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amanda | 8/2/2013

    " Awful. Bordering on unreadable. Meacham had all these great primary sources - and he did nothing with them. Threads of stories tangled up with each other and there was no good macro view of what else was going on in the United States besides the high school drama of Jackson's cabinet. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jhohanna | 4/20/2013

    " I absolutely loved this book and the stories combined within and how life really isn't much different today than it was 170 years ago. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Maria Zanis | 1/30/2013

    " This is a great book if you like political American history. I had no idea how amazing Andrew Jackson was and how much of an impact he had on the current governmental position of the United States. It's by no means a page turner, but I like it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Molly | 11/11/2012

    " Meacham loves Andrew Jackson. However, he fails to make the book engaging for large sections. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dave Larson | 8/9/2012

    " Good biography, with good perspectives from the Battle of New Orleans to his presidency. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katy | 2/2/2012

    " My son just gave this to me for Christmas--can't wait to read it. Good job, kiddo ! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Monica | 12/9/2011

    " A sympathetic portrait of a man of his time: a patriot and patriarch, a man who defined the presidency and held together the Union while dismissing the Indian conflict and holding slaves. A complex and focused leader who merits respect and study. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Wade | 6/29/2011

    " So far, this book is rough sleding and better as a rescource than as a definitive work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 LuAnn | 6/23/2011

    " Well written account of Andrew Jackson's presidential years. Jackson is an unforgettable personality. His controversial presidency transformed the executive branch. Many of the roles and power our president has today can be traced back to Jackson. Not a book you can speed read. "

  • 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

John H. Mayer is a writer, actor, and audiobook narrator. In 1973, he cowrote Radio Rocket Boy, an award-winning short film. He also has narrated dozens of audiobooks, including American Lion and The Wolf Tree, among many others.