ANDREW JACKSON by Robert V. Remini

ANDREW JACKSON

A Biography

KIRKUS REVIEW

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 Great Generals 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.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-230-60015-7
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2008




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