Tag Archives: Jon Meacham

Books! Books! Books!

Well it’s that time of year again – summer is in full swing!  It’s buzzing here on the island – boats, jet skis, people riding bikes, you name it, are all whizzing by my front door.  It’s crazy, I’m telling you, and in a couple of weeks, I’ll be vacationing in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina…just can’t get away from the ocean, lol.

But I love it.  We had a disastrous trip to the Smokies last month what with the rental breaking down and the cabin being haunted – creepy stuff, so hopefully this one will be filled with nothing to do but relaxing stuff.

I do want to mention I’ve gotten in lots of wonderful books lately, so because I’ve had my nose in tours for weeks on end, I thought I’d take the time now to let you know what goodies arrived at my doorstep.

Oh where do I begin…not necessarily in the order of preference they are:

Too Many Visitors 2Too Many Visitors for One Little House by Susan Chodakiewitz.  I will be giving it a review on the 31st, but it is sooooo cute.  Beautiful cover and inside, the illustrations are masterfully done.  It’s a beautiful little picture book.  Susan is in fact one of our clients on virtual book tour this month and what a joy she has been to work with.

Gracious Living on Social Security by Valerie Kent.  Cheryl Malandrinos is in charge of her tour but I asked if I could have a review copy so I could review it here.  Cute cover with an old lady and old man dancing and in the prime of their life so that gives me the impression this book is going to help me when I’m at that ripe old age which isn’t that far off!  I haven’t even attempted to read this yet and I think I better check to see when I have to review it for the tour, but it shouldn’t take too long.  It’s roughly 130 pages so I should be able to do that in a couple of sittings but I do have to mention the illustrations inside are really, really cute.

Coming for MoneyComing for Money by F.W. Vom Scheidt.  Another one of Pump Up’s clients and another book I’m really looking forward to reading.  The book is labeled a literary fiction and I can now see why…this guy knows how to write!  I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to review it before his tour ends in August, but the review will be forthcoming!

Summer HouseSummer House by Nancy Thayer.  Yep, another client.  Look, this woman I have admired for years ever since I bought her book The Hot Flash Club.  And omg, I have started reading this….no wonder she’s a NY Times Bestselling author!  I’m taking this book with me to South Carolina and hopefully while I’m sitting on the beach, I can finish it.

Writing as a Sacred PathWriting as a Sacred Path by Jill Jepson.  Another client…Jill will be touring in August and let me tell you this is a wonderful lady.  Her book is EXCELLENT.  I’ve only read a few pages just out of curiosity but I’m hoping to have her a nice review before the end of her tour.  Another book I’m taking with me to Myrtle Beach.

Angel LaneAngel Lane by Sheila Roberts.  Sheila is an old bud of mine and I was so excited she was coming back to Pump Up in October.  Love this woman!  But look, this book is so up my alley it’s not even funny.  The main character moves to a scenic lakeside community and they all decide to do one good deed a day, or at least that’s what I’m getting from it.  It is from this  good deed doing, she falls in love.  I haven’t even started into this book, but I think it’ll be another one I’ll take to the Carolinas.

Affordable Paradise by H. Skip Thomsen.  Even though he spells his name quite different from the way I do, he can’t be half bad with the same last name as me!  Skip emailed me a few months ago about a tour which we’re getting ready to set up, but he wanted to send me his book so I could see just what it was all about.  Okay, who wants to move to Hawaii?  Me!  Me!  I wish I had the guts to move all the way across country but it sure is tempting.  The thing is, we all think it’s expensive to live in Hawaii, right?  Well Skip says he has found ways to live in Hawaii and not have to spend your life savings doing it.  Really looking forward to reading this book!

Distant ThunderDistant Thunder by Jimmy Root, Jr.  Jimmy (doesn’t it feel weird calling a pastor by their first name?), but Jimmy is so down to earth and not only that, this book is excellent. I’ve only skimmed it so I’ll let you know more later when I review it but whew this guy can write.  Jimmy is touring with us in August and September so you’ll be hearing a lot about him over the course of his tour.

Night of FlamesNight of Flames by Douglas W. Jacobson.  Who doesn’t love books about WWII?  I was frothing at the mouth to get this one.  Douglas will be touring in September and October I believe, but omg, this looks like a great read.

American LionAmerican  Lion by Jon Meacham.  Talk. About. A. Huge. Book.  This book is almost 500 pages but I LOVE biographies and supposedly you’ll be hearing about all kinds of things Andrew Jackson did in the White House that you never knew about.  Jon, btw, is editor of Newsweek and get this…American Lion was the winner of the Pulitzer Prize.  So you know I have to read this one.  He’s also been touring with us this week, so check out some of this reviews, guest posts and reviews…excellent writer and what a fantastic historian.

The Spies of WarsawThe Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst.  Another Pump Up client touring this month.  And another book that was based on history – WWII.  It’s gotten excellent reviews.  The L.A. Times says, “…one does not so much read them as fall under their spell,” when talking about Furst’s books.  I cannot wait to read this one either!

Homer's OdysseyHomer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper.  Another one of Cheryl Malandrinos clients at Pump Up and I just had to email her to see if I could review Gwen’s book.  What’s not to like about a cat story, you know?  But it’s no ordinary cat.  Homer is blind and supposedly he teaches a woman how to love, so there’s going to be a love story in there, too…sounds terrific!

Well that wraps it up.  Too many books, so little time, but my suitcase is going to be really heavy come the first of August!

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Guest Blogger: Newsweek Editor & Pulitzer Prize Winner Jon Meacham

Jon_MeachamToday’s guest post is by Newsweek editor, Jon Meacham, author of American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House.  Thank you for your post, Jon!

Guest Blog by Jon Meacham on Andrew Jackson and the Controversy Surrounding Him

The punch saved the day. On the afternoon March 4, 1829, Andrew Jackson’s supporters, thrilled that Old Hickory had ended the reign of the unpopular son of another president, joyfully swarmed the White House, destroying carpets and crockery before being lured out of the windows by strategically placed buckets of punch. “Here was the corpulent epicure grunting and sweating for breath,” reported the New York Spectator, “the dandy wishing he had no toes—the tight-laced Miss, fearing her person might receive some permanently deforming impulse—the miser hunting for his pocket-book—the courtier looking for his watch—and the offie-seeker in agony to reach the President.” Establishment Washington was horrified, and Jackson’s aides had to form a protective circle around the new president in order to get him back to safety at his hotel. It was mayhem; “the whole house,” said Margaret Bayard Smith, a longtime Washington observer, was “inundated by the rabble mob.” There was, though, another way of looking at the matter. Perhaps, just perhaps, after six presidents from the upper reaches of American life, democracy—Jacksonian democracy—was making its stand.

I wanted to write about Andrew Jackson not only because of what he once meant, but what he means even now. History is not a clinical undertaking. The past, as William Faulkner once wrote, is never dead; it isn’t even past. To understand Jackson is to understand ourselves—the good and the bad, the light and the dark, the hope and the tragedy.

American LionEvery president since Old Hickory has worked in the shadow of, and stood on the shoulders of, Jackson, a man who is at once ubiquitous yet unfamiliar in the first decade of the 21st century. Think this may be overstated? Look no farther than the 2008 presidential campaign, one in which both candidates evoked elements of Jackson’s character and persona. Barack Obama was a change candidate, the nominee of the party Jackson founded, who would come to Washington, as Jackson did, to clean house. John McCain was a noble warrior who bears the scars of combat, a hawkish politician with a notable temper who is also capable of great human warmth.

Soldier, brawler, duelist, lover and politician, Andrew Jackson was the first American president to be the target of assassination, and the only one to attack his assailant. Tough and wily, passionate and canny, Jackson created the modern presidency, rewriting the script of American life to give the people a larger voice in its affairs than the Founding Fathers—who preferred government by elites over mass democracy—envisioned. Before Jackson it was possible to think of America without taking the role of the people into account; after him such a thing was inconceivable. As Harry Truman once said, “He looked after the little guy who had no pull, and that’s what a president is supposed to do.”

The challenges he face resonate in our own age. He believed the financial sector of the American economy was spoiled, corrupt and bad for the overall health of the nation, and so he destroyed, at great length, great drama and great cost, the Bank of the United States. He wanted the country to be a respected force around the world, and so he was quick to send forces to confront pirates, and he engaged in an epic diplomatic battle against France when the Chamber of Deputies refused to pay money it owed the United States. He thought the American Union sacred, and so he threatened civil war to put down radicals in South Carolina who were considering moves that could lead to secession. He was convinced that church and state should remain separate, and so he resisted calls for the formation of a “Christian party in politics,” and was troubled by ministers who involved themselves in politics.

He was the first truly self-made man to become president. Jackson was, to put it kindly, no scholar. When Harvard University voted to give the seventh president an honorary degree in 1833, a Massachusetts newspaper wrote that he deserved “an A. S. S.” as well as an “L. L. D.” From afar, the man Jackson had defeated for the White House, John Quincy Adams, was horrified his alma mater was recognizing a man he thought a barbarian who could barely spell his own name.

What could he teach the next president? Here are five lessons that President McCain or President Obama might usefully heed from Old Hickory:

Talk to people outside the Washington bubble. There was no Beltway in Jackson’s time, but there was an insular capital culture that could create divisions between Washington and the rest of the country. The White House can be lonely, isolating and distorting: presidents only hear good news from subordinates and criticism from foes. Jackson understood this, and often received members of the public as well as old friends, and he traveled every year to the shore in Virginia and back to his farm, the Hermitage, in Nashville, staying at hotels and public houses along the way. This way he could hear what real people were saying and get a sense of what real people were feeling—a crucial element in the art of democratic leadership. He also kept up a stream of correspondence with people around the country. No president will ever get as much unvarnished advice as he needs—the urge to defer to the man in power softens even the strongest of advisers—but Jackson found ways to learn more than he would have if he had simply depended on his staff.

Position yourself as the voice of the many. Jackson was the first president to assert that he was “the direct representative of the American people,” and he created a dramatic narrative in which he was the champion of the masses fighting corrupt elites—and he decided who to call a corrupt elite. Whether his foes were South Carolina radicals, the aristocratic Bank of the United States, or France, he always claimed the moral high ground. It drove his enemies crazy, but emboldened and motivated his own supporters beyond measure.

Turn your vices into virtues. Jackson was, to say the least, a hot-tempered man. (He carried two bullets in his body from duels and gunfights over matters of honor, and threatened to hang his own vice president.) But he was wise enough to know how to make this possible disadvantage an advantage. Once, during a crisis over the future of the Bank of the United States, he frightened a group of callers who had come to ask for economic relief. They left, terrified that to cross the president was fatal, and thus they moved closer to his position. After they left, Jackson’s apparent fury evaporated instantly. “Didn’t I manage them well?” he smilingly asked an aide. It had all been for show—and he got his way.

Control the message. Irritated by the coverage he was receiving from the partisan papers of the day, Jackson did not just whine about the press: he did something about it, founding his own newspaper, the Washington Globe. Often dictating stories and mapping out political strategy with its editors, Jackson was able to present his case in an unfiltered way to a broad audience. (It would be as though McCain founded Fox News or Obama created NPR.)

Appear inflexible—while being flexible. Jackson was an implacable defender of the Union against early Southern moves that could have led to secession. With thundering proclamations, he threatened the radicals with military invasion—he said he would personally lead the troops into South Carolina—but behind the scenes he cautioned the Union forces against precipitating any bloodshed, and in Congress his administration quietly produced legislation that ultimately defused the crisis peaceably. Old Hickory had won again.

FDR once said that Jackson was always relevant because the battles he fought—for the people against the privileged, for democracy, and for Union—were battles that face every generation. They certainly face ours. Here’s hoping the spirit of Jackson will help us see the way forward.

Jon Meacham is the editor of Newsweek and author of American Lion and the New York Times bestsellers Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship and American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation. He lives in New York City with his wife and children. You can visit his website at www.jonmeacham.com.

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