American Lion

Andrew Jackson in the White House

Written by: John Meacham
Narrated by: Richard McGonagle
Originally Reviewed: 05-09-17 on
Rating: 3 – Still looking for a more comprehensive and better told work

Interesting, But Not Intriguing

Of the Presidential Biographies I’ve done so far (Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Quincy Adams) as well as historical events that tangentially cover Presidents, I’m overwhelmingly unimpressed with Andrew Jackson as a President and/or John Meacham as a historian. Had this been my first taste of a US President, I might have been more positive with this review. But comparing this book – against Ron Chernow’s books on both Washington and Hamilton or the great David McCullough with John Adams – leaves me longing for a better telling.

Jon Meacham attempts to sell Jackson as the most powerful occupant of the White House up to that point (and he might have been), but the narrative is lackluster and I was left seeking more than he was willing to provide. The book begins with Jackson’s wife’s death just prior to him actually swearing into office and essentially ends (minus an epilogue) with the end of his second term and only a minor mentioning of his post-presidency life. Really everything prior to his election comes in small, unpalatable bites. Throughout the book I felt there was more attention given to the Donaldson’s and the Eaton’s than of Jackson himself. Although they were incredibly significant to a Jackson biography, I felt lost in a ‘he said, she said’ soap opera with President Jackson as only a minor character caught in the middle of it all.

I really didn’t have any issues with the narration, but didn’t really love it either. I listen at 3 x speed and had no problems with this narration. In reference to the title of this review, there were definitely points in the book I liked, but overall I didn’t really look forward to listening every day the way I usually do with books.

I’ll be looking for another biography on Jackson to either confirm or counter this review and I might listen to this one again in a year or two, but I’m not looking forward to either prospect right now.

Other works to consider:
1. Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
2. Washington: A Life, by Ron Chernow
3. John Adams, by David McCullough

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