Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans: The Battle That Shaped America’s Destiny, by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger, Sentinel, New York, 2017, $28
Fox News anchor Kilmeade and co-author Yaeger focus on Andrew Jackson’s unexpected, decisive victory over the British that ended the fighting in the War of 1812. Known as “Old Hickory” to followers and “Sharp Knife” to American Indian foes, Jackson rode his reputation for military heroics all the way to the White House, ushering in what historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called “The Age of Jackson.”
Kilmeade and Yaeger draw on many firsthand accounts, notably Jackson’s own papers, to weave a lively narrative supported with ample endnotes and a bibliography. There are sins of omission—for example, no mention of Jackson as a slave owner, nor of his “contempt of court” citation from a federal judge related to the questionable imposition of martial law before, during and after the battle. And while this popular history presents little new information, it does bring alive Jackson’s iron willpower and colorful personality, as well as the Chalmette battlefield, on the Mississippi a few miles downriver from New Orleans. It is a worthwhile supplement to the definitive works of renowned Jackson scholar Robert V. Remini—particularly his 1999 biography of “Old Hickory”—as well as Donald R. Hickey’s very good 2015 study, Glorious Victory.
—William John Shepherd