From the Publisher
“The official historian for the House of Representatives expertly limns Jackson's qualities as a military leader.” The Washington Post
“Remini, the prize-winning author of a multivolume biography of Jackson, proves a good choice for Palgrave's "Great Generals" study of Jackson from a military perspective. . . . [A] fine introduction based on years of advanced knowledge on the subject, distilled by Remini into a very good read. . . . General Clark's foreword offers a concise preview that effectively connects the book with the other books in this series. For a good story, a clear understanding of a formative--and controversial--figure in American history, this volume is strongly recommended.” Library Journal
“Robert Remini, the greatest Jackson scholar alive, offers a long-overdue reevaluation of Jackson's military career. Writing with customary brio, Remini brings to life Jackson's battles and wars, but goes further to enlarge Jackson's reputation as a strategist and tactician, and to suggest how those skills aided him in his later political career. Here is a fine addition to what is turning into an excellent series of military biographies.” Sean Wilentz, Princeton University, award-winning author of The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln
“Andrew Jackson's preeminent biographer has written a compelling narrative of Jackson's remarkable military career, judiciously sown with telling anecdotes that bring him to life. Jackson's iron will and genius for leadership leap from the pages.” Joseph Wheelan, author of Mr. Adams's Last Crusade: John Quincy Adams's Extraordinary Post-Presidential Career
“This Andrew Jackson biography is as exciting as it is important, and shows how a very complex military was molded from frontier clay during America's formative years.” Donald A. Davis, bestselling author of Shooter and Kill Zone
“In prose that is characteristically clear and often stirring, America's foremost expert on Andrew Jackson and his time sheds new light on an as yet unexplored side of Old Hickory -- the relentless military man.” Alan Pell Crawford, author of Twilight at Monticello: The Final Years of Thomas Jefferson
“When it comes to Jackson . . . there are few who have such a masterly command of the sources as Mr. Remini [who] kept me up late at night reading and causing me to wonder why, with narrative history such as this, anyone bothers to read historical novels.” Roger D. McGrath, The Wall Street Journal
“Robert Remini, the dean of historians of Andrew Jackson, has done it again. In this vivid, insightful, and illuminating study of Jackson the general, Remini paints a revealing portrait of Jackson in the field. This is an essential book for anyone interested in one of the greatest and most controversial military leaders in American history. And on top of all that, it is a sprightly, entertaining read.” Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek
In Robert V. Remini's Andrew Jackson (one in a series of slender books on "great generals," edited by Gen. Wesley K. Clark) the official historian for the House of Representatives expertly limns Jackson's qualities as a military leader.
The Washington Post
Whether seen through the lens of his own time or of ours, Andrew Jackson remains a complex figure, one who has been both praised and cursed from his own era up to today. Remini, the prize-winning author of a multivolume biography of Jackson, proves a good choice for Palgrave's "Great Generals" study of Jackson from a military perspective. Remini maintains a birth-to-death narrative while keeping the focus on Jackson's fundamental existence as a soldier. The result is a fine introduction based on years of advanced knowledge on the subject, distilled by Remini into a very good read. His Jackson is a man with a will of steel and unwavering vision who was first and foremost a fighter and a military commander. The battles in which he fought left their influence on the United States, physically, morally, and politically. General Clark's foreword offers a concise preview that effectively connects the book with the other books in this series. For a good story, a clear understanding of a formative-and controversial-figure in American history, this volume is strongly recommended for high school, college, and public libaries. [See the Q&A with Gen. Wesley Clark (ret.), left.]
A slim account of Old Hickory's military career by a leading historian of the period. Remini (History/Univ. of Illinois at Chicago; The Life of Andrew Jackson, 2003, etc.) leans over backward to see the world through his subject's eyes, but he cannot conceal that Jackson (1767-1845) was perhaps America's most disagreeable great figure: touchy, belligerent, prejudiced, provincial. The hatreds of his youth (foreigners, Indians, banks, the Eastern establishment) stayed with him until his death. Yet he was unquestionably a charismatic leader. As a general, Jackson was more notable for energy and aggressiveness than tactical skills; fortunately his enemies played to these strengths. Moving to frontier Tennessee in his 20s, he prospered, becoming the state's first congressman, but he disliked politics and resigned a year after being elected to the Senate. More to his liking was election as a Tennessee militia commander in 1802. He proved an implacable Indian fighter, and although Jackson's victories over the indigenous peoples make depressing reading for us, they delighted his contemporaries. By the outbreak of the War of 1812, he was a national figure. When British forces obligingly committed suicide by charging his strongly fortified lines at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, he became America's most popular hero since Washington. Given an independent command, he promptly invaded Florida, pursuing Indians and abusing Spanish officials. While this produced enemies in Washington, most Americans cheered, and Jackson's presence encouraged Spain to give up the territory in 1819. He retired in 1821, but supporters were already planning another career. Remini's contribution to the GreatGenerals series is hasty, enthusiastic and marred by such lowbrow devices as invented dialogue. Less satisfying than the author's longer works or the more recent biography by H.W. Brands. First printing of 50,000
Read an Excerpt
A Roaring, Rollicking Fellow
The election had been as filthy as presidential elections are ever likely to get. It set a record for character assassination scurrility, and unspeakable vulgarity. Both men seeking the high office paid a fearful price for their ambition. One of them, the sixty-year-old Andrew Jackson, watched in agony as his wife reeled under the assaults upon her character that daily spewed forth from the public prints. One day, as he sat in his home in Tennessee reading a newspaper, he spotted a paragraph that had a neatly-drawn hand pointing to the opening words. As he scanned the first line he paled; then, in a sudden, uncontrolled burst of emotion he broke down in tears, and his body shook with grief. His wife, Rachel, entered the room at that moment and, seeing his distress, asked him what was wrong. Jackson pointed to the offending newspaper. "Myself I can defend," he said. "You I can defend; but now they have assailed even the memory of my mother." Rachel picked up the paper and stared at the incredible words. "General Jackson's mother was a common prostitute," it read, "brought to this country by the British soldiers! She afterward married a mulatto man, with whom she had several children, of which number General Jackson is one!!!"
It may seem strange that General Andrew Jackson, hero of the War of 1812 and the courageous soldier boy of the American Revolution, could respond with tears to the lying words of a vicious newspaper editor. It would have been more characteristic had he stood up and roared his rage, summoned the vile penman to the field of honor, and there avenged his mother's name with a well-placed bullet; for Jackson did have amonumental temper, which when could hurl itself with fearful fury against those who displeased him. When he chose; he could flood a room with the gorgeous sounds of Anglo-Saxon expletives. But on this occasion Jackson did not rail or rant; he wept. And this sudden change from the expected was what many of his contemporaries remembered when they later tried to catch his personality on paper and describe it to others. His was not an obvious, Simple, or easy character to analyze. It was full of sharp contrasts, angular twists, and sudden turns. He was impetuous and cautious, ruthless and compassionate, suspicious and generous. He was driven by ambition-a skillful, hardheaded political operator, enamored of power, and deeply involved in all the ambiguities and oblique maneuvers that are inevitable in the pursuit of power. He was a complex of towering ambition, fierce loyalties, and stem discipline. One historian pronounced Andrew Jackson "a patriot and a traitor. He was one of the greatest of generals, and wholly ignorant of the art of war. A writer brilliant, elegant, eloquent, without being able to compose a correct sentence, or spell words of four syllables. The first of statesmen, he never devised, he never framed a measure. He was the most candid of men, and was capable of the profoundest dissimulation. A most law-defying, lawobeying citizen. A stickler for discipline, he never hesitated to disobey his superior. A democratic autocrat. An urbane savage. An atrocious saint."
But this complexity and contrast are some of the reasons for Andrew Jackson's enduring fascination. True, there were things about him that remained constant: his pursuit of fame, his conscientious performance of duty, his courage, his deep loyalties, his relentless patriotism, his everlastingharping on grievances and personal slights, and later, as President, his unshakable belief that he represented the people against aristocracy and privilege. But there was the other side. Take his celebrated temper for example; supposedly itwas an uncontrolled and elemental force of nature, which when released could not be assuaged until it had run its course. Actually it was something he could turn on and off, almost at will. He frequently displayed it in bravura performances to frighten susceptible politicians. Jackson was good at this. He had a fine intuitive sense about when to scold and also when to soothe-which in large measure explains why he made such an excellent politician and President.
Occasionally, his temper did indeed race beyond his grasp. But not often; and then it was mostly when he was a young man, before his wife helped him to appreciate the value of self-control. Some said the temper was to be expected in a redheaded man who had "so much genuine Irish blood in his veins;" except that it was not Irish exactly; it was Scotch-Irish. His father and mother had come from Carrickfergus, an old town on the northeastern coast of Ireland, about ten miles from Belfast. His father, also named Andrew, was the son of a well-to-do linen weaver, and had migrated to America in 1765, with his wife, Elizabeth Hutchinson, and two sons: Hugh, who was two years old, and Robert, who was six months old. On arrival, the family headed straight for the Waxhaws, a settlement approximately 160 miles northwest of Charlestown, South Carolina, where Elizabeth's sisters were living with their husbands. This region straddled North and South Carolina and was watered by the Waxhaw Creek, a branch of the Catawba River that ran through the fertile land. The settlement was ringed by a jungle of piny woods. Near the edge of this waste, the Jacksons settled on a tract of two hundred acres, and for two years the father struggled to improve the sour land. He cleared some fields, brought in a late crop the first year, and built a cabin-to no avail. He died suddenly in February 1767 at the age of twenty-nine, leaving two boys and a pregnant wife.
A rude farm wagon ferried the body to the Waxhaw churchyard where it was buried. Elizabeth, in no condition to return to her own house after the funeral, went to the house of her sister, Mrs. Jane Crawford, whose husband was the most prosperous of the inlaws. A few days later, the shock of her husband's death brought on labor pains, and Elizabeth gave birth to her third son on March 15, 1767. She named him Andrew after her dead husband.
A controversy of sorts exists about whether Andrew Jackson was born in North or South Carolina. (It has also been suggested that he was born either abroad or at sea, but there is no validity to these theories.) The argument for North Carolina rests on the claim that Elizabeth did not go to the Crawford house after the funeral but went instead to the home of her brother-in-law, George McKemey, who lived on the North Carolina side of the Waxhaws. Jackson, himself, always believed...