Thursday, July 12, 2007

Book Review: "Andrew Jackson" by Sean Wilentz

Sean Wilentz does an excellent job writing this biography of President Andrew Jackson. He gives a fair assessment of the man, his times, and the context in which he made some of the most momentous antebellum political decisions. President Jackson was, and still is, a highly controversial figure. He was adored by many and despised by many others. Regardless of one's view, he is unquestionably an important president, and set a number of significant precedents in the office of the presidency. Yes, President Jackson is the man on the $20 bill.

This biography is one volume in The American Presidents Series, published by Times Books (Henry Holt & Co.). This is now the 16th book I have read in the series. Most, but not all, of the presidential biographies have already been written, each by an author who is well acquainted with the subject. Perhaps 1/4 remain to be published. The overall series of books is great. Each biography averages about 150 pages of scholarly, yet readable, writing. Each assumes that the reader knows a little of the background of the period of history during which the president served. I have been collecting them for four years and now have eighteen of the books (I have not yet read the volumes on Washington and Adams).

Most portray the subject in a positive light, yet do not overlook the foibles and mistakes the executive may have made. Even relatively obscure presidents like Van Buren, Arthur, or Harding get their due. If you enjoy biographies and you enjoy American history, I can heartily recommend that you find the volume on a favorite president (or even one you know little about) and enjoy yourself.

1 comment:

tom said...

great job