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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jackson: The Iron-Willed Commander (The Generals Series) by Paul Vickery

A Nifty Little Biography

Published by Thomas Nelson in 2012.

Jackson: The Iron-Willed Commander is a welcome addition to a larger series called The Generals that offers relatively short biographies (about 200 pages) of America's better-known generals. This book is by no means the definitive biography of Andrew Jackson, but it is great introduction to this controversial man.

Andrew Jackson (1767-1845)
Andrew Jackson lived most of his life on the American frontier. His most famous battle was, of course, the Battle of New Orleans in the last moments of the War of 1812 (technically, it took place after the treaty was signed) but by that time Jackson was a veteran of many battles. He had already fought the British in two wars, skirmished with the Spanish several times and was involved in multiple frontier wars with Native Americans. Throw in Jackson's willingness to duel and one quickly realizes that Jackson thrived on action and danger. A great deal of his life seems to be consumed by organizing for a campaign, going out on a military campaign, recovering from injury sustained in a battle or a duel or recovering from an illness he contracted while on a campaign. His wife, Rachel, must have been a very patient woman.

Rather than go into the details of Jackson's life, I will comment on the presentation of Jackson's more controversial decisions in the book. Jackson is reviled in many Native American communities for his policy of  forcing Native Americans out of their traditional land and making them settle across the Mississippi, including villages and communities that sided with him during the wars and including groups that decided to live like white society. Vickery is to be commended for doing what so many biographers would not do - he explains why Jackson did this. Many writers would scold Jackson, but Vickery explains Jackson's reasoning without excusing him. It makes for a better biography if one can understand the thinking of the time.

Since it is a part of a series about generals, most of the book focuses on Jackson's long and varied military career. Jackson's presidency merits a few pages as does his personal life. This is a nifty little biography and I recommend it as a great place to start a study of Andrew Jackson or the frontier times of the South.

I received this book as a part of Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze program in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed on July 24, 2012.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Jackson: The Iron-Willed Commander

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

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