One genre of book that I have a hard time resisting when I see them featured in a bookstore is biography, particularly biographies of our earlier presidents and Founding Fathers.
Here’s the problem: I rarely ever actually getting around to reading any of them. I buy them with all good intentions, but with the exception of Walter Isaacson’s “Benjamin Franklin,” they’re all still just sitting on my bookshelves looking pretty, they have yet to percolate into my brain. Often they’re just not quite captivating enough to pick up instead of something else.
“American Lion” would probably have been relegated to the same fate if I had not received it as part of a blog tour, simply because that’s just what happens to these books now. Boy, am I ever glad I had an obligation to read this one so I couldn’t just stick it on the shelf!
“American Lion” is Jon Meacham’s new biography of Andrew Jackson, one of our most interesting presidents, in my opinion. The dude fought 13 duels and lived almost the last 40 years of his life with a bullet in his chest, come on!
I’m only about 1/3 of the way through the book, but it is a fascinating read so far. Meacham tells the story of Jackson’s presidency through the lens of his pre-presidency experiences and interpersonal relationships, which keeps the story flowing. It is much more interesting to read of Jackson’s exploits fighting the Spanish and British to maintain the boundaries of his country and his fears that they were paying Native Americans to wreak havoc against Americans than to simply read about his removal policy without exploring his motivation for wanting Native Americans out of U.S. lands (other than the normal explanation of simple 19th-century racism and paternalism, of course).
The hardcover of “American Lion” was released at the end of last year and won the Pulitzer Prize. At 512 pages, including well over 100 pages of notes and index, that must have been a heavy hardcover! Luckily, the paperback came out at the end of April. It is still heavy, but worth it so far. I’ll give you my final thoughts when I finish it, though.
How do you fare with biographies? Is this a genre you love? One you avoid? Or are you like me, you plan to read them, but usually don’t?
Thank you to Random House and Pump Up Your Book Promotion for sending me “American Lion.”