Pulitzer Prize for Jon Meacham

Pulitzer Prize for Jon Meacham

April 23rd, 2009 in Opinion Times

Jon Meacham, a native of Chattanooga and a regular visitor to Tennessee, is the winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for biography. The honor confirms what many who have read his work and followed his career have long known. Mr. Meacham, currently editor of Newsweek magazine, is a major figure on the nation's jour-nalistic and literary scenes.

The award of the Pulitzer for "American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House" confirms that status. The annual prizes honor the best in United States print journalism as well as arts, music and literature.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning volume examines how Jackson's pivotal years in the White House helped shape the modern presidency. The book was described by the judges as an "unflinching portrait" of Jackson, written in "agile" prose that brings Jackson's story to life.

The Pulitzer jury's praise echoed reviews of the Jackson biography on publication. The New York Times hailed it as "enormously entertain-ing" and "carefully analytical." The Washington Post hailed it as "The most readable single-volume biography ever written of our seventh president."

Scholars echo that praise. Doris Kearns Goodwin said it was "a beautifully written, absolutely riveting story." Michael Beschloss called it "A spellbinding, brilliant and irresist-ible journey ... that shows us how the old hero transformed both the American presidency and the nation he led."

The prize-winning biography is not Mr. Meacham's only book of note. He also is author of "Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship" and "American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation." Both enjoyed best-seller status and continue to sell briskly.

Mr. Meacham, a graduate of McCallie School and a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the Univer-sity of the South who once worked for The Chattanooga Times, is a member of a family long involved in literary pursuits. Jere Ellis Meacham, his late father, served as editor of the UTC student newspaper. His grandfather, the late Ellis K. Meacham, a lawyer and municipal judge here, authored a well-received Napoleonic nautical trilogy - "The East Indiaman," "On the Company's Service" and "For King and Company".

Mr. Meacham's Pulitzer Prize is not the first time the award has been associated - albeit it indirectly - with his family. His grandmother, the late Jean Meacham, endowed the Meacham Writers' Workshop, held twice a year on the UTC and Chattanooga State campuses, in honor of her husband. Over the years, winners of both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award have spoken at the popular events.

Jon Meacham's Pulitzer Prize honors a work of scholarship and a felicitous writing style that makes history accessible to all. Chattanoogans can take pride in the achievements of a native son.