Was “Old Hickory” i.e. Andrew Jackson an ethnic cleanser? BOOK Review Pulitzer Prize Winner 2009: Biography Prize – ‘American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House’ by Jon Meacham

Posted on April 20, 2009. Filed under: Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , |

Newsweek editor, Jon Meacham, has taken out the ‘biography prize’ at the 2009 Pulitzer Awards held at Columbia University for his work ‘American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House,’ a best-seller about the populist US president whose sympathy for the less fortunate never extended to slaves.

“Jackson represents the best and the worst of us” Meacham said of his work

Apparently Meachem accessed materials not and/or rarely consulted before, to bring us this fascinating page turner. ‘Old Hickory’ Andrew Jackson was a great defender of democracy and it’s founding principles, yet he was a man tainted by his rich life as much as he was honoured. It is highly open for debate whether he would be considered a human rights abuser and ethnic cleanser today in hindsight. He stood for the defense of human rights, yet in the same breath seemed to attack them. Meacheam does a great job in giving humanity to a man that history has been unkind to in so many ways, justifiably or not. Meachem deserves praise for highlighting the positives of the 7th President of the US as much as the US$20 bill does. He is very adept at political PR.

The book is a good addition to the historical understanding of American political history, slavery and the plight of Native Americans. Meacham’s background as a journalist lends greatly to the readability of this text. It is not an academic work, but that is what makes this work. It is more like a compelling storytelling newspiece than a dry ‘academic standard’ american history textbook.
Get it now. It doesn’t disappoint. One could expect to build it up too much in the expectation stakes before reading it, especially after the media frenzy surrounding the winning of a pulitzer, but we were pleasantly surprised that it was as good as the media that covered its accolade made out.

The story of Jackson is certainly not one that is settled between historians. To get a feel for the other side of the historical coin on him, not just the legend, we enourage prospective readers to also consider having a read of Professor of History – Andrew Bursteins ‘The Passions of Andrew Jackson’ (Vintage, 2004) contemoraneously with Meachams work. We suspect the truth lies somewhere in between the two versions.

Amazon US:
Meachams: ‘American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House’
Professor Bursteins: ‘The Passions of Andrew Jackson’

Amazon UK:
Meachems: ‘American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House’
Professor Bursteins: ‘The Passions of Andrew Jackson’

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Pulitzer Prize Winners 2009 : non-fiction award – ‘Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II’

Posted on April 20, 2009. Filed under: Human Rights | Tags: , , , |

Well, the Pulitzer Prize winners for 2009 have been announced this morning at Columbia University and this year the awards for human rights pieces are admirable. The general nonfiction award went to “Slavery by Another Name : The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II” by Douglas A. Blackmon, the Atlanta bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal.

“It’s a huge honor for me,” Blackmon said of his Pulitzer, “but more importantly I hope it really validates the idea that this is a part of American history that we have ignored and neglected, and it’s time for a really dramatic reinterpretation of what happened to African-Americans during that period of time.”

Check the book out here at Amazon, as we here at the Human Rights Book Review intend to-

Amazon US: Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II

Amazon UK: Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II

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Indigenous Peoples – Keepers of our past – custodians of our future by Erica-Irene Daes (IWGIA, 2008)

Posted on April 1, 2009. Filed under: Human Rights | Tags: , , , |

Erica-Irene Daes is an academic and international lawyer of great repute. She has been defending the right of indigenous peoples internationally for many decades. She has fought for for their legitimisation via inclusion within United Nations bodies and processes.  A battle that has been hard fought but with sweet triumphs.

This work is a culmination of her experiences over some 20 years and the path the UN itself has travelled in the last 30 to bridge a gap between little to no recognition in the UN system to now being at the forefront.

This book acts as a solid historical record from an active actor in indigenous affairs. Replete with legal principles, cultural heritage and meaning backed up by various case studies, this is a book that is held in high regards by those working in the field of social justice.

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