February 25, 2010

behind the scenes of at times dull

here is what is going on. we are mired, just mired, in andrew jackson. we had planned to finish the meacham biography by february 14, and neither of us has yet accomplished it. every once in a while we check in with each other, confirm that we haven't finished, and complain about this book.

i can't put my finger on it, but this biography just seems insubstantial. andrew jackson was a huge turning point for the american presidency, and while meacham is quick to point this out, he's more interested in which adjectives to use to describe the turning point than in parsing out its implications.

jon meacham loves adjectives.

we have also had very little serious inquiry into AJ and the indian question, which is maybe the defining question of his presidency. meacham dwells a lot more on the nullification crisis, and on the scandal of who would and would not receive visits from andrew jackson's secretary of war's wife, who was of ill repute. these issues got a lot of people hot and bothered at the time, but their historical merit doesn't jump off the page.

dave and i are now very serious presidential scholars, and we can tell a fluff biography when we've got it in our hands. we're not happy about it.

1 comment:

  1. Why am I commenting on a year-old blog post? I just discovered your blog while researching which MVB bio to order, and am similarly mired in Am Lion. I actually read Brands' AJ: His Life and Times, and followed up with Am Lion because a friend gave it to me and I thought Meachem would be more interesting. But I'm slogging through it - back to back, this is a LOT of Jackson - and I'm looking forward to moving on to MVB.

    I'm deciding between Niven and Silbey for MVB - I think I'll go with Silbey, based on it being more recent - and on NOT being 700+ pages.