July 24, 2009



I haven't read this biography. I would be curious to know how the Indian Removal Act is treated in this book. For many Native Americans, Jackson was the worst president. He was responsible, ultimately, for the Trail of Tears--the genocide of the Cherokee--among others. Although Americans can't seem to bring themselves to understand it, being "fascinated" with Jackson is like being fascinated with Hitler in this context.

Jenny WOolf

As a biographer,I am always fascinated by the way that historical figures related to lifestyles that were unimaginably different from today's. It is not surprising that their behaviour did not fit modern paradigms

What would Jackson have been like today? He wouldn't have done the same things, because he wouldn't have faced the same situations and the same challenges. For this reason I don't think he can be viewed (or disapproved of) as if he were a modern person.

Of course we can have personal views about whether or not we'd have liked / approved of him, but if he had lived now he would have been too different for us to conjecture about.


Jenny -

I don't really understand your comment. WHy is it at all important to be able to imagine what historical figues would be like if they lived today? And why would that "fact" somehow deflect criticism of how they actually lived and what they actually did when they were alive?

If Torquemada were alive today, he'd probably be selling mattresses at a discount store. So? That in no way alters our ability to judge the actual man in history.

You response also assumes, soto voce, that Jackson's treatment of the Indians was, given the mores of his time, uncriticizable by his contemporaries. That, against the background of the culture of his time, it would have been impossible to see how he acted as wrong. But this is a demonstrably false clasim. There certainly were those in Jackson's day who saw his treatment of the Indians as criminal and immoral. We don't have to project our modern ethics back into Jackson's time to reach that conclusion. Las Casas has never lacked for followers in the New WOrld, even if their voices were not always decisisve when it came to action and policy.

Dorothy Thompson

Thanks for hosting Jon on his virtual book tour today, Mark! And hope you feel better!

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This is so beautiful and creative. I just love the colors and whoever gets it in the mail will be smiling.

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