In This Review

The Passions of Andrew Jackson
The Passions of Andrew Jackson
By Andrew Brustein
Knopf, 2003, 320 pp

The seventh president of the United States was the last one to have fought -- as a boy of thirteen -- in the American Revolution. Founder of the modern American party system, war hero, expansionist, Indian remover, slave owner, populist, proponent of the annexation of Texas, Jackson is one of the most significant and, despite landmark studies by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and Robert Rimini, one of the most understudied figures in American history. This new book, an examination of Jackson's character based on close readings of his often creatively spelled personal writings and correspondence, shows a Jackson marked by the strengths and weaknesses of his frontier milieu. Driven by a rigid code of honor, shaped by a distinctive border culture, moved by passionate loyalties but easily stung by real or imagined insults, Brustein's Jackson embodies the America he led. Brustein has the talent, industry, and command of the archival sources to become a powerful voice in a historical movement that will place the neglected but formative years between 1824 and 1860 back where they belong: at the center of America's historical self-understanding.