The Autobiography of Martin Van Buren – Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren was Jackson’s left hand man (because, despite the murder, bloodshed, etc., Jackson still somehow didn’t manage to do all his dirty work). Van Buren was a mischievous little twerp with a magnificent mind for dastardly deeds and political maneuvering. He was elected president in 1836.
And he wrote an autobiography.
Well, almost. He died before he finished it, so this is technically not an autobiography. Despite its girth, it’s so dreadfully incomplete that it wasn’t published until 58 years after his death. Still, if I am not faced with the most blatantly partisan book about a political figure that I’ve ever seen, I will be sorely disappointed. I’m looking for slanted opinions, lies, and alternative facts. GIVE ME THE CRAZY.
Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times – H.W. Brands
Last year I read the very popular American Lion by Meacham. H.W. Brands is another of those pop historians with a cult following, but I’ve not read from him before. Like American Lion, this is a single volume biography and I have no doubts that it will glance over so much stuff that it will disgust me. Even so, I think it will be interesting to see how well this matches up with Meacham’s work and what sorts of information Brands chooses to include.
But God, that title. He would have had to genuinely try in order to make a more boring title.
Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union – Robert V. Remini
Robert V. Remini is, without a doubt, my favorite Jackson historian. Common critiques of his work include being too chummy with his subjects, and I’ll be honest that this critique is perfectly valid. Even so, the man had sass, and he’s either very good at picking an editor or very good at editing himself. I’ve read six (almost seven now!) of his books, and they’ve never let me down.
But this? THIS?! How could he have betrayed me and Old Hickory by writing about Henry Clay, the blackleg and Judas of the West? Henry Clay, mortal enemy of Andrew Jackson, was not the sort of person I’d have expected Remini to write about. So, given that I already know Remini gets too into his subjects, I wonder how this staunch Jacksonian author will feel about Henry Clay in this work.
John Quincy Adams – Harlow Giles Unger
John Quincy Adams, affectionately known as “J-Qua” by me and my friends, is one of those obscure presidents (I think – he’s not obscure to me, so I’m just guessing). Recently, he’s been brought up for sharing two major traits with 45: he had one term and lost the popular vote. I’ve said before that the Election of 1824 was probably a good analogy for the Election of 2016, and by golly after 2020 rolled around I felt so stoked that I called it. Nailed it good, you guys. Or at least I think I did – don’t know what’s coming in 2024. Might have to update with some Grover Cleveland madness.
Anyway, J-Qua won the election against Andrew Jackson. Jackson blamed/hated him (and Henry Clay) for murdering his wife, Rachel. He was the son of John Adams of revolutionary and Alien and Sedition Act fame. This dude needs to be read about.
I’ve got a buttload of reviews for you this year. While all the slots for indie book reviews on this blog are taken this year, you can still submit to my review request page and maybe see something pop up on Goodreads and Amazon.
See my old reviews here