dangermousie: (Default)
I am reading HW Brand's biography of Andrew Jackson and I love it - it's wonderfuly written.

It's funny, the one thing I knew about Jackson's adolescence is the famous British soldier story - you know the one - during American Revolution, when he wasn't yet 14, a British officer mandated him to clean his boots and he wouldn't and got cut in the head with a saber for it, having a scar for the rest of his life.

But I didn't know the rest - my God, what an adolescence! After finding out, his pretty implacable hatred of the British is explained. Apparently, his region was pretty staunchly pro-revolution and his two older brothers fought (Jackson was too young and was used as a scout and some fighting). His oldest brother was killed in the fighting and middle brother and Jackson were apprehended in his aunt's house by the British. The British trashed the place, demanded Jackson clean the officer's boots blahblah famous story, then marched him (still wounded) and his brother off to prisoner-of-war camp making them walk for days (?) without letting them drink anything and dumping them in a camp with no supplies, medical care, a raging smallpox epidemic, and threats of execution. His mother walked 40 miles to the camp and talked the British into trading for Jackson and his brother. The brother died from smallpox on the way home, leaving Jackson an only child. He ended up having smallpox as well, and barely survived. As soon as he got better, his Mom set off to walk to free his cousins (in a similar camp) and died on the way. Yup, Jackson was still 14 at the time.

It's not super PC to admit to a historical crush on Jackson but I do have one, whatever questionable things he did during his Presidency (i.e. the bank stuff; Trail of Tears* - his view of Native Americans came from being a frontiersman who lived in places where you had to sleep with a gun for a decent chunk of his youth). I can't help but admire someone who came from no background/connections whatsoever and became a legendary general and then a President. Plus, I love the populist touch - US was at a danger before him of becoming a place like e.g. Pakistan, where all the power is in the hands of a certain 'class' of people and families and if you are not a member of the club, you can't play.

* The way the Whites treated Native Americans was horrible (e.g. the British deliberately tried to get them to catch smallpox when they rebelled, charming) but the way the Native Americans treated the Whites (staring the rebellion by massacaring women and children even after settlements surrendered) was awful too. The whole thing is just making me think how people love being nasty to each other - if there is no "other" to be nasty to, they'll just turn on themselves. It's a whole vicious circle because one party retaliates and then another and so on and on and on and on.

Also, this books makes an interesting point about Jackson and Rachel's controversial marriage - whether they were married for the few years they said they were (they thought divorce was granted to her but it wasn't - that's not contested, but at issue was whether they even bothered getting hitched or just pretended to do so) before her divorce became final and they had another ceremony. I have to say, I always kinda loved the way Jackson adored Rachel - after reading about so many slimebag politicians, it's rather nice to see one who loved and was faithful to his wife, for a change. I think he's the only President who's ever fought duels for his wife's honor. :) Of course, if it wasn't for his love for his (then dead) wife, the whole "pettycoat war" over unsuitability of Peggy Eaton to be a DC hostess wouldn't have happened (he clearly saw the slurs they used to throw at Rachel in Washington socialites' reactions to Peggy being a wife of a cabinet secretary).
dangermousie: (Default)
I am reading HW Brand's biography of Andrew Jackson and I love it - it's wonderfuly written.

It's funny, the one thing I knew about Jackson's adolescence is the famous British soldier story - you know the one - during American Revolution, when he wasn't yet 14, a British officer mandated him to clean his boots and he wouldn't and got cut in the head with a saber for it, having a scar for the rest of his life.

But I didn't know the rest - my God, what an adolescence! After finding out, his pretty implacable hatred of the British is explained. Apparently, his region was pretty staunchly pro-revolution and his two older brothers fought (Jackson was too young and was used as a scout and some fighting). His oldest brother was killed in the fighting and middle brother and Jackson were apprehended in his aunt's house by the British. The British trashed the place, demanded Jackson clean the officer's boots blahblah famous story, then marched him (still wounded) and his brother off to prisoner-of-war camp making them walk for days (?) without letting them drink anything and dumping them in a camp with no supplies, medical care, a raging smallpox epidemic, and threats of execution. His mother walked 40 miles to the camp and talked the British into trading for Jackson and his brother. The brother died from smallpox on the way home, leaving Jackson an only child. He ended up having smallpox as well, and barely survived. As soon as he got better, his Mom set off to walk to free his cousins (in a similar camp) and died on the way. Yup, Jackson was still 14 at the time.

It's not super PC to admit to a historical crush on Jackson but I do have one, whatever questionable things he did during his Presidency (i.e. the bank stuff; Trail of Tears* - his view of Native Americans came from being a frontiersman who lived in places where you had to sleep with a gun for a decent chunk of his youth). I can't help but admire someone who came from no background/connections whatsoever and became a legendary general and then a President. Plus, I love the populist touch - US was at a danger before him of becoming a place like e.g. Pakistan, where all the power is in the hands of a certain 'class' of people and families and if you are not a member of the club, you can't play.

* The way the Whites treated Native Americans was horrible (e.g. the British deliberately tried to get them to catch smallpox when they rebelled, charming) but the way the Native Americans treated the Whites (staring the rebellion by massacaring women and children even after settlements surrendered) was awful too. The whole thing is just making me think how people love being nasty to each other - if there is no "other" to be nasty to, they'll just turn on themselves. It's a whole vicious circle because one party retaliates and then another and so on and on and on and on.

Also, this books makes an interesting point about Jackson and Rachel's controversial marriage - whether they were married for the few years they said they were (they thought divorce was granted to her but it wasn't - that's not contested, but at issue was whether they even bothered getting hitched or just pretended to do so) before her divorce became final and they had another ceremony. I have to say, I always kinda loved the way Jackson adored Rachel - after reading about so many slimebag politicians, it's rather nice to see one who loved and was faithful to his wife, for a change. I think he's the only President who's ever fought duels for his wife's honor. :) Of course, if it wasn't for his love for his (then dead) wife, the whole "pettycoat war" over unsuitability of Peggy Eaton to be a DC hostess wouldn't have happened (he clearly saw the slurs they used to throw at Rachel in Washington socialites' reactions to Peggy being a wife of a cabinet secretary).
dangermousie: (Default)
I am reading HW Brand's biography of Andrew Jackson and I love it - it's wonderfuly written.

It's funny, the one thing I knew about Jackson's adolescence is the famous British soldier story - you know the one - during American Revolution, when he wasn't yet 14, a British officer mandated him to clean his boots and he wouldn't and got cut in the head with a saber for it, having a scar for the rest of his life.

But I didn't know the rest - my God, what an adolescence! After finding out, his pretty implacable hatred of the British is explained. Apparently, his region was pretty staunchly pro-revolution and his two older brothers fought (Jackson was too young and was used as a scout and some fighting). His oldest brother was killed in the fighting and middle brother and Jackson were apprehended in his aunt's house by the British. The British trashed the place, demanded Jackson clean the officer's boots blahblah famous story, then marched him (still wounded) and his brother off to prisoner-of-war camp making them walk for days (?) without letting them drink anything and dumping them in a camp with no supplies, medical care, a raging smallpox epidemic, and threats of execution. His mother walked 40 miles to the camp and talked the British into trading for Jackson and his brother. The brother died from smallpox on the way home, leaving Jackson an only child. He ended up having smallpox as well, and barely survived. As soon as he got better, his Mom set off to walk to free his cousins (in a similar camp) and died on the way. Yup, Jackson was still 14 at the time.

It's not super PC to admit to a historical crush on Jackson but I do have one, whatever questionable things he did during his Presidency (i.e. the bank stuff; Trail of Tears* - his view of Native Americans came from being a frontiersman who lived in places where you had to sleep with a gun for a decent chunk of his youth). I can't help but admire someone who came from no background/connections whatsoever and became a legendary general and then a President. Plus, I love the populist touch - US was at a danger before him of becoming a place like e.g. Pakistan, where all the power is in the hands of a certain 'class' of people and families and if you are not a member of the club, you can't play.

* The way the Whites treated Native Americans was horrible (e.g. the British deliberately tried to get them to catch smallpox when they rebelled, charming) but the way the Native Americans treated the Whites (staring the rebellion by massacaring women and children even after settlements surrendered) was awful too. The whole thing is just making me think how people love being nasty to each other - if there is no "other" to be nasty to, they'll just turn on themselves. It's a whole vicious circle because one party retaliates and then another and so on and on and on and on.

Also, this books makes an interesting point about Jackson and Rachel's controversial marriage - whether they were married for the few years they said they were (they thought divorce was granted to her but it wasn't - that's not contested, but at issue was whether they even bothered getting hitched or just pretended to do so) before her divorce became final and they had another ceremony. I have to say, I always kinda loved the way Jackson adored Rachel - after reading about so many slimebag politicians, it's rather nice to see one who loved and was faithful to his wife, for a change. I think he's the only President who's ever fought duels for his wife's honor. :) Of course, if it wasn't for his love for his (then dead) wife, the whole "pettycoat war" over unsuitability of Peggy Eaton to be a DC hostess wouldn't have happened (he clearly saw the slurs they used to throw at Rachel in Washington socialites' reactions to Peggy being a wife of a cabinet secretary).
dangermousie: (Default)
This will probably be of no interest to anyone but I have just discovered that they made a mini (in Germany) about Baron von Trenck a few years back. Super-glee. I need to get my hands on it.

WTF? Ask most of you.

Allow me to go back to my childhood. When I was about 11 or 12, I read George Sand's novel Consuelo about Consuelo, a beautiful and wonderful Mary Sue of an opera singer. Even at that age, I found the incredibly pure, virtuous, whiny and dull heroine annoying (oh, look - her voice is the bestest ever! oh look she gets Haydn to fall for her! oh look she is super-beautiful and kind to her evil rivals! oh look she is the only one who can coax the rather insane Baron Albert into the present world! oh look - she is so amazing she makes me want to dry-heave!).

Despite that it was a rather fun, picaresque novel if you could overlook its wet blanket heroine, mainly because she had a lot of adventures in her life. One such adventure involved her travelling with Haydn (really!) while cross-dressing as a boy (really!) and being kidnapped by the Prussian military recruiters (really!). From such an undesirable situation she was rescued by a nobleman named von Trenck who was a real historical figure. Ms. Sand rather drooled over him - mentioning things like his love for Princess Amelie (sister of Friederich the Great), his escape from the 18th century version of maximum-security prison etc. Most importantly, because von Trenck was taken by Princess Amelie (secretly married to her, in fact) unlike every other male between 15 and 80, he did not fall for Consuelo. That alone made him a crush object.

Anyway, I sort of developed an interest in him since then - he's had a crazily colorful life: secret husband of a Princess (which fact landed him in prison from which he escaped), another prison stint where he was chained up hand and foot, military adventures, beheading by the French during the French revolution etc etc. Basically, it all sounds like it could be a lot of fun in fiction form, so color me excited for a mini!
dangermousie: (Default)
This will probably be of no interest to anyone but I have just discovered that they made a mini (in Germany) about Baron von Trenck a few years back. Super-glee. I need to get my hands on it.

WTF? Ask most of you.

Allow me to go back to my childhood. When I was about 11 or 12, I read George Sand's novel Consuelo about Consuelo, a beautiful and wonderful Mary Sue of an opera singer. Even at that age, I found the incredibly pure, virtuous, whiny and dull heroine annoying (oh, look - her voice is the bestest ever! oh look she gets Haydn to fall for her! oh look she is super-beautiful and kind to her evil rivals! oh look she is the only one who can coax the rather insane Baron Albert into the present world! oh look - she is so amazing she makes me want to dry-heave!).

Despite that it was a rather fun, picaresque novel if you could overlook its wet blanket heroine, mainly because she had a lot of adventures in her life. One such adventure involved her travelling with Haydn (really!) while cross-dressing as a boy (really!) and being kidnapped by the Prussian military recruiters (really!). From such an undesirable situation she was rescued by a nobleman named von Trenck who was a real historical figure. Ms. Sand rather drooled over him - mentioning things like his love for Princess Amelie (sister of Friederich the Great), his escape from the 18th century version of maximum-security prison etc. Most importantly, because von Trenck was taken by Princess Amelie (secretly married to her, in fact) unlike every other male between 15 and 80, he did not fall for Consuelo. That alone made him a crush object.

Anyway, I sort of developed an interest in him since then - he's had a crazily colorful life: secret husband of a Princess (which fact landed him in prison from which he escaped), another prison stint where he was chained up hand and foot, military adventures, beheading by the French during the French revolution etc etc. Basically, it all sounds like it could be a lot of fun in fiction form, so color me excited for a mini!
dangermousie: (Default)
This will probably be of no interest to anyone but I have just discovered that they made a mini (in Germany) about Baron von Trenck a few years back. Super-glee. I need to get my hands on it.

WTF? Ask most of you.

Allow me to go back to my childhood. When I was about 11 or 12, I read George Sand's novel Consuelo about Consuelo, a beautiful and wonderful Mary Sue of an opera singer. Even at that age, I found the incredibly pure, virtuous, whiny and dull heroine annoying (oh, look - her voice is the bestest ever! oh look she gets Haydn to fall for her! oh look she is super-beautiful and kind to her evil rivals! oh look she is the only one who can coax the rather insane Baron Albert into the present world! oh look - she is so amazing she makes me want to dry-heave!).

Despite that it was a rather fun, picaresque novel if you could overlook its wet blanket heroine, mainly because she had a lot of adventures in her life. One such adventure involved her travelling with Haydn (really!) while cross-dressing as a boy (really!) and being kidnapped by the Prussian military recruiters (really!). From such an undesirable situation she was rescued by a nobleman named von Trenck who was a real historical figure. Ms. Sand rather drooled over him - mentioning things like his love for Princess Amelie (sister of Friederich the Great), his escape from the 18th century version of maximum-security prison etc. Most importantly, because von Trenck was taken by Princess Amelie (secretly married to her, in fact) unlike every other male between 15 and 80, he did not fall for Consuelo. That alone made him a crush object.

Anyway, I sort of developed an interest in him since then - he's had a crazily colorful life: secret husband of a Princess (which fact landed him in prison from which he escaped), another prison stint where he was chained up hand and foot, military adventures, beheading by the French during the French revolution etc etc. Basically, it all sounds like it could be a lot of fun in fiction form, so color me excited for a mini!

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