Jon Ellis Meacham was born on May 20, 1969. He is an American writer, reviewer, historian and presidential biographer. A former executive editor and executive vice president at Random House, he is a contributing writer to The New York Times Book Review, a contributing editor to Time magazine, and a former editor-in-chief of Newsweek. He is the author of several books. He won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography for American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. He holds the Carolyn T. and Robert M. Rogers Endowed Chair in American Presidency at Vanderbilt University.
After college, he worked at The Chattanooga Times, until he moved to Washington, D.C., in 1993 and became co-editor of Washington Monthly. In 1995, he worked for Newsweek as the national affairs editor, and became managing editor in late-1998. In 2006, he became editor-in-chief of Newsweek's print and online formats.
He was the editor for Voices in Our Blood: America's Best on the Civil Rights Movement which was released in 2001. Spanning the period from 1941 to 1998, the book includes writings of noted civil-rights leaders, novelists, and journalists, like John Lewis, James Baldwin, William Faulkner, and David Halberstam. His book, Franklin and Winston, Partners of an Intimate Relationship about Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, was released in 2003.
Meacham has explored America's leaders in such works as Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power as well as his biography of Andrew Jackson, American Lion, which won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography. Jill Abramson writing in a book review in The New York Times states that Meacham's books are "well researched, drawing on new anecdotal material and up-to-date historiographical interpretations" and presents his "subjects as figures of heroic grandeur despite all-too-human shortcomings". In his biography of Jefferson, Meacham identifies qualities that would be helpful in the current political arena, "Jefferson repeatedly reached out to his enemies and showed ideological flexibility." Regarding the former president's stance on slavery, Meacham states, "Slavery was the rare subject where Jefferson's sense of realism kept him from marshaling his sense of hope in the service of the cause of reform.