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From the Trade Paperback edition.
Burstein (History/Univ. of Tulsa; America’s Jubilee, 2001, etc.) clearly does not share the generally favorable view of Andrew Jackson popularized in the last couple of decades by Robert Remini, the author of a now-standard three-volume biography published between 1977 and 1984. In his highly critical reconsideration, Burstein keeps his eye on the individual, treating Old Hickory as something out of the pages of Shakespeare in the Richard III/Coriolanus/Titus Andronicus vein, with perhaps a dash of Lear’s madness. Like them, Jackson was ruled by his passions, which were many and elemental; they got him in more than one scrape in his long life (1767-1845), whether running off to the then-Spanish borderlands of Mississippi with the estranged wife of a neighbor or fighting Cherokees on the Tennessee frontier (in which service, Burstein suggests, Jackson’s deeds have been much overrated, though this is the fault of later mythmakers and not of Jackson himself). Several constants arise in these pages: Jackson’s overarching hatred of Indians and conviction that the only way to treat them was by force; his certainty that "virulent enemies were plotting against [him]" at all times, an irrational belief that he shared, Burstein claims, with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson; his ardent defense of slavery, though his last words to his slaves were, "I want all to prepare to meet me in Heaven. . . . Christ has no respect for color." The overall effect is, of course, a whittling away of the Jacksonian legend, so much so that by the end, readers will wonder how he came to be considered great in the first place. Thisdiminution Burstein achieves with good evidence at hand, though he is sometimes given to judging Jackson and his contemporaries by modern standards rather than those of the day.
Nicely written and generally well-considered: particularly useful for students of the Jacksonian era.
“Rich in insight into Jackson’s personality. . . . Burstein makes fair on his promise to look dispassionately at this most passionate of presidents. . . . A very readable, insightful analysis into the character and evolution of the American republic.” —Plain Dealer
“Excellent. . . . A must-read for anyone interested in the presidency or early American history.” –Flint Journal
“A useful, persuasively critical account of the development of Jackson’s self-image as an honorable patriarch and champion of righteous government..” —The Washington Post Book World
“Impressive. . . . Persuasive. . . . Argues that the times shaped Jackson and thrust him into the White House as the first ‘commoner’ elected president because he so personified the young nation’s bold, brash spirit and sense of destiny.” –The Baltimore Sun
“In his ably drawn portrait…[Burstein] studies Jackson from many angles: as the orphan of the American Revolution, the self-taught orator, … and as the lanky husband who loved his stocky wife, Rachel, touchingly and fiercely.” –The New York Times Book Review
“Well-researched and well-written.. . . Burstein, with his longstanding interest in the American mind, wants to show how we pick our national heroes.” –Chicago Tribune
From the Hardcover edition.
|1.||The Formative Frontier||3|
|2.||Fraternity and Defiant Honor||34|
|3.||Judging Character: Burr||62|
|4.||Engaging the Enemy: New Orleans||87|
|6.||The Avenging President||159|
Posted August 15, 2006
It's amazing how much revision one can do to the reputation of Andrew jackson in just 200 pages, but Burstein manages to pull it off. The revision isn't negative per se, not by far, it is a re-visioning, a way to see Jackson anew. As an introduction to Jackson it works quite well, and as revisionist history it does equally as well. Burstein's style is elegant and research ample. The last chapter is outstanding.
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Posted December 18, 2005
How sad that someone has time to attack a man who achieved such great glory during a period of time that was so difficult. Anyone who enjoyed the book or questions his character has never experienced anything like what was going on during President Jackson's time. Shame on the author and the readers who think that they can relate.
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Posted October 9, 2004
Any students of early American history, its presidency and the steps our leaders took to keep our imfant nation truly territorially independent will enjoy this enlightening read as the qualities of Jackson's leadership can be encompassed within this realm of study.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 5, 2011
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Posted July 24, 2010
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