At the beginning of the year I started reading American Lion by John Meacham. I never really learned much in detail about Andrew Jackson or his presidency. I chose this biography after hearing the author interviewed by Brené Brown and listening to season one of his podcast Hope, Through History. I liked his approach to history, the way he made history approachable and relevant.
I have read the first five chapters and for me it is a mixed bag. I love what I am learning and how he uncovers the humanity in all the people involved. What I struggle with his the presentation. Rather than taking a strictly chronological approach in writing, the author goes back and forth using aspects and stories from the past to illustrate what is happening in the narrative. This is an excellent approach that I have appreciated in my other books. It creates a sense history as a living thing through story. But the writing is not very precise. I find myself confused at times between what is past in the story and what is the story being told. It leaves the narrative feeling disjointed and mixed up.
As a result, I considered giving up on it and finding another biography. I did some research and didn’t find much. This particular book actually won the Pulitzer Prize for history. And it is routinely praised as the best one-volume history of Jackson. So I think I will stick with it. Despite my struggles with the writing, I am finding myself enlightened both about Jackson and this time in my country’s history.