Bradley Birzer, professor of history and Russell Amos Kirk chair in American Studies, released his sixth biography, “In Defense of Andrew Jackson,” on Tuesday.
After working out a contract with Harry Crocker of Regnery Publishing in April 2017, Birzer ordered all of Jackson’s published papers and began to read. With the support of his wife, history lecturer Dedra Birzer, he wrote five to eight hours a day and completed a manuscript four months later.
“It’s the fastest book I’ve ever written, for better or for worse,” Birzer said in an email.
Since arriving at Hillsdale in 1999, Birzer has taught many classes on American history, including Jacksonian America, the American Founding, the American West, and U.S. Economic History.
“I’ve been interested in the time period as far back as I can remember,” Birzer said, “but I only recently became intensely interested in Andrew Jackson as a person.”
Birzer said the era was important for many reasons — from the first railroads and start of industrialization, to westward expansion and disagreements over slavery, and revivals in American art, literature, and religion.
Senior Brooke Sabina, who is double majoring in English and history, is currently taking Birzer’s Jacksonian-era history class. Sabina said Birzer has a “tremendous memory for interesting details” about this period in American history.
“Birzer is passionate about that period,” Sabina said. “He has a beautiful excitement and joy sharing everything that goes on during that time — from the 3,500 miles of expansion to the battle of New Orleans.”
According to an article Birzer wrote for The Imaginative Conservative, he received many negative reactions after releasing the book’s title.
“He’s the symbol for the whole age, and since he first emerged on the public scene in the late 1790s, Americans have either hated him or loved him,” Birzer said of Jackson. “He was as brutal as he was honest. And he was very brutal.”
History Department Chair Mark Kalthoff said Hillsdale’s history department releases an average of three books per year, however Birzer’s book marks the fourth they have
released in 2018. Professor of History Thomas Conner’s book on the history of battle monuments in the United States will be released later this month.
On Sept. 25, professor Bradley Birzer will host a lecture on his new book. The lecture will begin at 7 p.m. in the Dow Center Conference rooms A and B. After the lecture, copies of his book will be for sale, and Birzer will be available to sign copies.