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Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and the Future of America

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A vivid narrative history of Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and their infamous duel Duel is a remarkable retelling of the fatal 1804 duel between former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Vice President Aaron Burr. Thomas Fleming takes the reader into the post-revolutionary world of the early nineteenth century, a chaotic and fragile time in the young country A vivid narrative history of Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and their infamous duel Duel is a remarkable retelling of the fatal 1804 duel between former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Vice President Aaron Burr. Thomas Fleming takes the reader into the post-revolutionary world of the early nineteenth century, a chaotic and fragile time in the young country as well as a time of tremendous global instability. The success of the French Revolution and the proclamation of Napoleon as First Consul for Life had enormous impact on men like Hamilton and Burr, feeding their own political fantasies at a time of perceived Federal government weakness and corrosion. Their hunger for fame spawned antagonisms that wreaked havoc on themselves and their families and threatened to destabilize the fragile young American republic. From that poisonous brew came the tangle of regret and anger and ambition that drove the two men to their murderous confrontation in Weehawken, New Jersey. This is popular narrative history at its most authoritative, and authoritative history at its most readable--a must for readers interested in Hamilton, Burr, and America's early history.

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A vivid narrative history of Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and their infamous duel Duel is a remarkable retelling of the fatal 1804 duel between former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Vice President Aaron Burr. Thomas Fleming takes the reader into the post-revolutionary world of the early nineteenth century, a chaotic and fragile time in the young country A vivid narrative history of Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and their infamous duel Duel is a remarkable retelling of the fatal 1804 duel between former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Vice President Aaron Burr. Thomas Fleming takes the reader into the post-revolutionary world of the early nineteenth century, a chaotic and fragile time in the young country as well as a time of tremendous global instability. The success of the French Revolution and the proclamation of Napoleon as First Consul for Life had enormous impact on men like Hamilton and Burr, feeding their own political fantasies at a time of perceived Federal government weakness and corrosion. Their hunger for fame spawned antagonisms that wreaked havoc on themselves and their families and threatened to destabilize the fragile young American republic. From that poisonous brew came the tangle of regret and anger and ambition that drove the two men to their murderous confrontation in Weehawken, New Jersey. This is popular narrative history at its most authoritative, and authoritative history at its most readable--a must for readers interested in Hamilton, Burr, and America's early history.

30 review for Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and the Future of America

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I have only two points to make about this book: 1) The topic is engaging…but somehow not as much as I expected it to be. In a book about the duel that killed one of America’s founding fathers, you anticipate a moving story. But I just didn’t feel this one very much. (Come on, no seething, violent rage on the part of either duelist? Seems unnatural.) But most of my disappointment was certainly based in my strong dislike of the author’s style. Which brings me to point two. 2) The author is blatant I have only two points to make about this book: 1) The topic is engaging…but somehow not as much as I expected it to be. In a book about the duel that killed one of America’s founding fathers, you anticipate a moving story. But I just didn’t feel this one very much. (Come on, no seething, violent rage on the part of either duelist? Seems unnatural.) But most of my disappointment was certainly based in my strong dislike of the author’s style. Which brings me to point two. 2) The author is blatantly and overwhelmingly biased. This man surely nurtures a burning hatred for Thomas Jefferson. Now of course I am not interested in a book that paints everything rosy. No—facts are good enough for me. Neutrality, as far as possible. But this author seemed intent on spewing his opinion everywhere and making a general mess. There were many points where I became so extremely frustrated with the author’s sneering disdain that I seriously struggled with my determination to finish the book. The facts of this story speak quite loudly enough. And in my opinion a good author can state the historical facts cleanly, and let them do just that—speak for themselves. That is what Fleming failed to do. Perhaps if I had been able to get over this failure, I might have enjoyed the book more. As it is, I’m glad to have finally learned the Hamilton v. Burr story, but wish that I had done it some other way.

  2. 4 out of 5

    sabrina

    Though I enjoyed reading about the duel between Hamilton and Burr, the title is somewhat misleading. In reality, the duel takes up about a chapter - maybe two. The rest of the book is more of an examination of every small political skirmish of the early 1800s that may or may not have involved Hamilton or Burr. While I can appreciate what the author is trying to do here, and it's interesting to learn about the political atmosphere of the time, reading about it was very tedious. It was hard to kee Though I enjoyed reading about the duel between Hamilton and Burr, the title is somewhat misleading. In reality, the duel takes up about a chapter - maybe two. The rest of the book is more of an examination of every small political skirmish of the early 1800s that may or may not have involved Hamilton or Burr. While I can appreciate what the author is trying to do here, and it's interesting to learn about the political atmosphere of the time, reading about it was very tedious. It was hard to keep track of everyone and Fleming tended to jump around quite a bit; at times I was confused as to how some of the passages correlated to one another. In theory, it could make sense to provide excruciating detail of all the politics that took place before the duel, but in this book it's hard to see the connection. When it got to the actual duel, Fleming basically said that Burr challenged Hamilton due to the depression he was in, and the fact that he wanted some kind of Bonaparte glory. This renders the 300 pages prior, and the politics they examined, insignificant and frivolous details. I also had an issue with how Fleming was blatantly wrong about some of the things he stated as facts. For instance, he once stated that Jefferson was undeniably the start of the modern Democratic party - something that makes no sense. Jefferson was for a weak central government and states' rights. He was a slave owner that was for cutting taxes, legislative power, and a strict construction of the constitution. These are all very conservative ideals, and much closer to the modern Republican party than the Democratic one. Not only that, but Fleming also presents the idea of an affair between Angelica Schuyler-Church and Alexander Hamilton as an undeniable fact, when there is no evidence of it at all, only rumors. My final complaint is of Fleming's criticism of Hamilton's religious beliefs. Fleming was repeatedly saying things like "this is not the Christian way" or "a genuine Christian would not have told anyone", going so far as to quote the Bible as proof that Hamilton wasn't truly a Christian. Honestly, to me, it felt gross and much like Fleming is a devout Christian attempting to defend his faith. Personally, I've never seen identifying yourself with a religion as something that you have to adhere to strict rules for. Maybe it's just me. But Fleming's criticism of Hamilton in that respect seemed unwarranted. Overall, this book left me disappointed. While I did enjoy reading about the duel, that was not the main focus.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mark Mortensen

    Years ago I was under the impression that the Founding Fathers and other politicians from the late 1700’s to early 1800’s got along in harmony, however the more I read it is apparent that quite often the opposite is true. It was not uncommon for the Federalists and Republicans to bitterly oppose each other and internal disagreements within a party were also common. This book details the political climate leading up to a unique chapter in American history. On July 11, 1804 a prearranged pistol du Years ago I was under the impression that the Founding Fathers and other politicians from the late 1700’s to early 1800’s got along in harmony, however the more I read it is apparent that quite often the opposite is true. It was not uncommon for the Federalists and Republicans to bitterly oppose each other and internal disagreements within a party were also common. This book details the political climate leading up to a unique chapter in American history. On July 11, 1804 a prearranged pistol dual pitted sitting U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr against General Alexander Hamilton, George Washington’s chief military advisor, a politician in his own right and former Secretary of the Treasury. It is not a spoiler to state that one of the participants was mortally wounded. The author has performed much detailed research. I recommend this book to those with an interest in early American history as well as to those who have an interest in politics and are under the impression that today’s politicians are as divisive as ever.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Javier Cruz

    Duel was decent, and went into great detail about the history of both Hamilton and Burr. I have a few complaints though. Throughout the book, it seems that it is flooded with other information that does not have anything to do with Hamilton, or his future duel with Burr. It went into great detail about the politics of the late 1700's and the early 1800's. It has everything that you would want to know about early american politics. There was also lots of information leading up to the duel of Ham Duel was decent, and went into great detail about the history of both Hamilton and Burr. I have a few complaints though. Throughout the book, it seems that it is flooded with other information that does not have anything to do with Hamilton, or his future duel with Burr. It went into great detail about the politics of the late 1700's and the early 1800's. It has everything that you would want to know about early american politics. There was also lots of information leading up to the duel of Hamilton and Burr. I would recommend this book if you want to learn everything about early American politics around the turn of the century. One of my complaints is that Duel is a 400+ page book that only spends about ten pages about the main subject of the book. My other main complaint is that the author takes sides, which is distracting in this book. Overall, I enjoyed reading and learning about early America despite the book flaws.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bat713

    Exceptionally researched. I wanted to learn more about Hamilton and especially Burr after seeing the musical. Learn, I did. 400 + pages. What I did find out is not the romantic story we are familiar with from Maranda. These were complicated flawed humans whose stories included much more than the rivalry portrayed in the play. It took me a long time to finish the book but ai am glad I did. I probably will go back every once and a while to reread and reabsorb the very different life stories of the Exceptionally researched. I wanted to learn more about Hamilton and especially Burr after seeing the musical. Learn, I did. 400 + pages. What I did find out is not the romantic story we are familiar with from Maranda. These were complicated flawed humans whose stories included much more than the rivalry portrayed in the play. It took me a long time to finish the book but ai am glad I did. I probably will go back every once and a while to reread and reabsorb the very different life stories of these two men.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    The author presents a well-researched and very detailed examination of the events leading up to and beyond the famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. However, for two primary reasons, I cannot recommend this book. First, the author's disjointed writing style jumps around in the chronological events to such a degree that I eventually failed to see how things connected. Second, and more importantly, I was offended by what seemed to be a personal attack on the apparent religious conve The author presents a well-researched and very detailed examination of the events leading up to and beyond the famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. However, for two primary reasons, I cannot recommend this book. First, the author's disjointed writing style jumps around in the chronological events to such a degree that I eventually failed to see how things connected. Second, and more importantly, I was offended by what seemed to be a personal attack on the apparent religious conversion of Hamilton toward the end of his life. The author seems to take great delight in pointing out the man's flaws, almost maliciously at times. This approach was so strong that it intruded on the story. In conclusion, I'd recommend reading of the events in our nation's history, especially in the twenty or so years after 1789. I just don't highly recommend you do it with this particular book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    This is a good, very high level version of the history. It's written simply enough that I could read it to my kindergartner and her two pre-school sisters. With that said, it really short-changes Alexander Hamilton in order to play up the somewhat-parallels between the two. At some point you should just admit that they're not that parallel and that A-Ham was right that Burr had no integrity and no interests beyond advancing himself.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    This makes you wonder how our country survived when people like Hamilton and Burr were responsible for it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    If you are an historian this book will satisfy your quest for the inside scoop on Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, along with many of their contemporaries. If, like me, you are more interested in an overview, the pages turn ever so slowly. There are nuggets of information that never seemed to surface in elementary and high school history classes. The events with which the author deals take place, for the most part, between 1801 and 1804. The duel between Hamilton and Burr are only a small part If you are an historian this book will satisfy your quest for the inside scoop on Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, along with many of their contemporaries. If, like me, you are more interested in an overview, the pages turn ever so slowly. There are nuggets of information that never seemed to surface in elementary and high school history classes. The events with which the author deals take place, for the most part, between 1801 and 1804. The duel between Hamilton and Burr are only a small part. It is interesting to note that little has changed in the arena of Washington politics since those days. Egos and the quest for power ruled the day and established alliances. Slander in those days could end up being settled in court, or in a duel. Today it is in the court of public opinion. The author, in great detail, lays out the relationships between Jefferson and Hamilton, between Hamilton and Burr and between the Republicans and Federalists. Good information for the historian, but a bit laborious for the casual reader such as myself. I should add that these were fragile times for our newly formed democracy. There were those who would derail it by secession, or political coup. There were those who hated Jefferson and those who hated Hamilton. Both men played important roles in the development of our government and our financial systems, respectively. Each had its detractors.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kristin Strong

    Four stars for being super-informative; minus one for the author's style. This is a quibble, I admit, but there is no reason to refer to Congressmen as "solons". There were tangents galore, and he has a penchant for referring to people by their titles, which gets confusing. In addition, I believe the author was biased -- he was probably a Jefferson hater, and he really handled Burr with kid gloves. I mean, he portrayed Burr as someone who was always very conscious of what he was doing and its me Four stars for being super-informative; minus one for the author's style. This is a quibble, I admit, but there is no reason to refer to Congressmen as "solons". There were tangents galore, and he has a penchant for referring to people by their titles, which gets confusing. In addition, I believe the author was biased -- he was probably a Jefferson hater, and he really handled Burr with kid gloves. I mean, he portrayed Burr as someone who was always very conscious of what he was doing and its meaning, while Hamilton was -- I don't know, what's the term? Spiritually confused? Plus over-sensitive and a monarchist...and maybe that's the way things really were. What all this means is that, whenever you read a book where you can't truly know how things went down, or what people were thinking, you have to weigh the author's tone and word choice that much more carefully, and make your own decisions. Did I learn a lot? Sure. Was this an easy read? Nope.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    “The Duel: The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr” is a fascinating piece of literature that compares and contrasts the lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. It is written by Judith St. George. Judith is a respected author, she has written forty-five books, including this one. All of her books tend to bring the characters to life, as she entends them to be. In this particular piece of literature she does an outstanding job of grasping every little detail of all of Hamilton “The Duel: The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr” is a fascinating piece of literature that compares and contrasts the lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. It is written by Judith St. George. Judith is a respected author, she has written forty-five books, including this one. All of her books tend to bring the characters to life, as she entends them to be. In this particular piece of literature she does an outstanding job of grasping every little detail of all of Hamilton and Burr’s lives. The book starts by explaining the early life struggles of each of the two men. The book then proceeds to tell us about their life as grown men and their encounter. As the book goes on you will find a lot similarities between them, as they were both wise and very hardworking men. Overall this is a great read, and a great way to learn a little bit more about our American history.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katie Galucki

    This was a rather cumbersome read. The author seemed to go off on so many tangents that it was difficult to follow what was going on. If the entire book had been written in the same style as the Afterward it would have been easier to follow. Still, the book was well researched and presented details that we don't always hear about our founding fathers and the political climate of that era.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Robert Mattei

    If you believe the current level of political discord is as bad as it gets, this book will give you a different perspective. Vanity, yellow journalism, dirty politics and even treasonous behavior are part of our history from the earliest days. I found the telling long-winded and overly detailed in parts but fascinating overall.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    Ugh............I usually love reading books like this; however, this particular book was like reading 104 highschool history books. I truly love historical facts, but there were so many names and situations that I couldn't keep track. Very interesting book, but too much info.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Clove

    Poorly written and poorly organized

  16. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    I definitely learned some new history, but nonfiction books are so dense.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Monical

    Really amazing story, but told in such a turgid fashion as to be soporific. I had no idea (and need to confirm) that Jefferson was rather "trumpish" in his term as President-- tried to eliminate or at least disarm the judiciary, and was intend on the smallest government as possible. Both Burr and Hamilton are revealed to be womanizing professional politicians intent on their own agendas. Clearly, I need to learn more about the period but can't stomach the thought after consuming this indigestibl Really amazing story, but told in such a turgid fashion as to be soporific. I had no idea (and need to confirm) that Jefferson was rather "trumpish" in his term as President-- tried to eliminate or at least disarm the judiciary, and was intend on the smallest government as possible. Both Burr and Hamilton are revealed to be womanizing professional politicians intent on their own agendas. Clearly, I need to learn more about the period but can't stomach the thought after consuming this indigestible mess.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    This book is slightly mis-titled. while it has everything to do with the duel that eventually killed alexander hamilton, it covers so much more. Fleming examines the history of the United States from its very beginings, looking at how Burr (did you know he was jefferson's vp first time around - who knew?) and Hamilton made their reputations, how they maintained them, and how we now remember each man. For a man who was such an integral player in the formational years of the United States, it alwa This book is slightly mis-titled. while it has everything to do with the duel that eventually killed alexander hamilton, it covers so much more. Fleming examines the history of the United States from its very beginings, looking at how Burr (did you know he was jefferson's vp first time around - who knew?) and Hamilton made their reputations, how they maintained them, and how we now remember each man. For a man who was such an integral player in the formational years of the United States, it always seems that Burr gets fairly short shrift in the history books. he's not remembered as a particularly great man (in fact, the best thing he is known for is a failed secession plan involving a corrupt general, the british, mexico, and the american west). but it seems that mr. burr had a much greater influence on the country than any of us could have imagined. not to say that hamilton is not covered. indeed, he is covered extensively. going from his political victories to his political defeats, his absolute hatred of jefferson, and his complete and utter abhorrence for burr. still though, the story seems to revolve around the man who shot hamilton. perhaps its because burr lived while hamilton died, or perhaps its because burr was still a political player at the time of the duel while hamilton (and indeed the federalists) had been put in essential exile. anyway, i go on too far. this is a great back for anyone interested in this time of history, anyone looking to get a glimpse at the personal motivations behind these two founding fathers, or anyone just generally curious as to what may have been if the two men had not met in new jersey that fateful july morning.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anup Sinha

    I was drawn to the book out of fascination with the event and the era. In truth, only about the last quarter of the book is focused on the Duel and its aftermath. The rest is background information, some of which is relevant, some only distantly so. I thought much of the first 300 pages had a scatter-shot approach. Fleming did a great job of research, but in telling the stories he got caught up in minutiae. A lot of it was hard to read and I skimmed a lot. And the way he focused on the Clintons a I was drawn to the book out of fascination with the event and the era. In truth, only about the last quarter of the book is focused on the Duel and its aftermath. The rest is background information, some of which is relevant, some only distantly so. I thought much of the first 300 pages had a scatter-shot approach. Fleming did a great job of research, but in telling the stories he got caught up in minutiae. A lot of it was hard to read and I skimmed a lot. And the way he focused on the Clintons and Jeffersonites battles with Aaron Burr, it was like his feud with Hamilton was an afterthought until the last 100 pages. I learned some interesting things, like how Hamilton challenged James Monroe to a duel seven years before in which Aaron Burr ironically played the peacemaker. Or how Hamilton and Burr once co-litigated what at the time was New York's largest awarded case. But Fleming just kind of passed over these things, really didn't try to build the evolution of their relationship but instead took a broad historical approach leading to the duel. I would have enjoyed more of the interpersonal approach though I do enjoy the broader history as well. I have read, through Ron Chernow and others, that Hamilton and Burr likely met as college students and they butted heads as young men over the same woman at least once. Fleming doesn't really go into that history, he starts with them well into their 30s/40s and I sense their destinies and jealousies were borne much earlier.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    I found this book quite interesting. In today's political climate everyone likes to say, politics has never been this contentious. After reading this book you realize, whenever people are in power there will always be those who feel they are the only ones who should wield it, and only they know how to do so. I think most people have a vague knowledge of the Hamilton/Burr duel, but I doubt most know much of what led up to it. From my previous knowledge of this event in history I always thought I found this book quite interesting. In today's political climate everyone likes to say, politics has never been this contentious. After reading this book you realize, whenever people are in power there will always be those who feel they are the only ones who should wield it, and only they know how to do so. I think most people have a vague knowledge of the Hamilton/Burr duel, but I doubt most know much of what led up to it. From my previous knowledge of this event in history I always thought of Burr as being the bad guy, and Hamilton his victim of evil intent. What I found was that both men had some admirable qualities, and also had some that were pretty bad. Both were womanizers, which pretty much always leads to some kind of trouble. Both also felt they were men of destiny, and if people knew what was good for them they would support and follow them. So in reality even though they positioned themselves as opposites politically, they both had a lot in common. Mr. Fleming did a great job of giving you as much information about both men and what led up to their climactic duel. But he left it up to you to determine who was more right or more wrong, and in the end it became a hard choice to make. You should read this book and decide for yourself.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ted

    Fleming's unusual writing style requires patience. He tells his story in a highly circuitous manner, but the reader who stays with Fleming and pays attention will reap rewards. The fact this duel occurred seems unfathomable by today's standards: A sitting Vice President kills an august ex-Secretary of the Treasury and war hero! Fleming, however, convincingly deduces the motivations of Burr and Hamilton. He does not demonize or lionize either of them. Instead he paints a richly detailed picture o Fleming's unusual writing style requires patience. He tells his story in a highly circuitous manner, but the reader who stays with Fleming and pays attention will reap rewards. The fact this duel occurred seems unfathomable by today's standards: A sitting Vice President kills an august ex-Secretary of the Treasury and war hero! Fleming, however, convincingly deduces the motivations of Burr and Hamilton. He does not demonize or lionize either of them. Instead he paints a richly detailed picture of the political scene in the early 1800s. He combines this with incisive and extensive analysis of the careers, romantic lives, finances, etc., of both Hamilton and Burr. In this manner he explains how two intelligent political luminaries ended up in mortal combat. Fleming's rich tapestry comes at a price: The reader must exercise patience. Initially, Fleming appears to be going on incessant tangents and digressions. In the end, he weaves the threads together in superb fashion. I intend to read another book by this author. Now that I am familiar with his unusual style, it will be all the more enjoyable.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Fran Becker

    Definitely an entertaining read. Thomas Fleming has the knack of making non-fiction history books appear to be historical fiction. The characters are compelling, and it takes close to 300 pages to get to the actual duel, because Fleming devotes so much time to describing the historical setting in which such a fateful meeting could take place -- and make sense to all the parties involved, which we as 21st century Americans have difficulty in understanding. Burr and Hamilton and their cohorts and p Definitely an entertaining read. Thomas Fleming has the knack of making non-fiction history books appear to be historical fiction. The characters are compelling, and it takes close to 300 pages to get to the actual duel, because Fleming devotes so much time to describing the historical setting in which such a fateful meeting could take place -- and make sense to all the parties involved, which we as 21st century Americans have difficulty in understanding. Burr and Hamilton and their cohorts and political rivals all seem like very real, and flawed, individuals. Fleming's account actually made me like Burr a little better. I like his insouciance, his carefully crafted public personality. When, years after the duel, a former friend of Hamilton's crosses the street to call Burr a "scoundrel", something that before would have provoked another duel, Burr merely replies, "The opinions of the learned chancellor are always entitled to the highest consideration." I rather like that.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    I really enjoyed this book. It gives you the kind of details you crave when you love history. There are all sorts of surprising facts about these historical figures I thought I knew. I did re-examine my premises after reading this and now think of Burr as a sort of underdog. He may have been the villain history books love to, well, villainize, but he may have been misunderstood. Being a Hamilton fan myself, there's plenty of dirt and info about him too. It's a fast read even thought being like I really enjoyed this book. It gives you the kind of details you crave when you love history. There are all sorts of surprising facts about these historical figures I thought I knew. I did re-examine my premises after reading this and now think of Burr as a sort of underdog. He may have been the villain history books love to, well, villainize, but he may have been misunderstood. Being a Hamilton fan myself, there's plenty of dirt and info about him too. It's a fast read even thought being like 3 inches thick it doesn't look like it. I pretty much sat around doing nothing but reading it until I finished. I think it would make a good book club selection because it is likely to spark alot of controversy and conversation. It is actually a fun book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    This is an enjoyable account of the political circumstances and rivalries that led to the famous duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton in the early 1800s. I enjoyed the style of the story quite a bit, even though the parts just before the duel tended to drag on a bit too much. But the best part by far was that the folks in the story were real people; human, frail, stupid, pig headed, and ambitious in turns or all at once. The Founding Fathers mystique is nowhere to be found here; instea This is an enjoyable account of the political circumstances and rivalries that led to the famous duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton in the early 1800s. I enjoyed the style of the story quite a bit, even though the parts just before the duel tended to drag on a bit too much. But the best part by far was that the folks in the story were real people; human, frail, stupid, pig headed, and ambitious in turns or all at once. The Founding Fathers mystique is nowhere to be found here; instead, real people slander, stab and eventually shoot each other. It's the kind of book that as the story peters out in the 1810s, I wanted to find out what happened next...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shawn

    Thomas Fleming's Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and the Future of America, is a highly readable account of the fateful "interview" between two of the dominant figures in the early republic. Geared towards the general public, the book offers far more than another study of the duel, however. As the subtitle indicates, Fleming also explores the era's volatile political background and how later American history was influenced by it. Throughout the 406 pages of text, the author incorporates int Thomas Fleming's Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and the Future of America, is a highly readable account of the fateful "interview" between two of the dominant figures in the early republic. Geared towards the general public, the book offers far more than another study of the duel, however. As the subtitle indicates, Fleming also explores the era's volatile political background and how later American history was influenced by it. Throughout the 406 pages of text, the author incorporates into his narrative such issues as the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, the possible secession of New England and the West, and the Burr Conspiracy.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Denise Rau

    Who knew the back-stabbing, gossiping, low-level of discourse masked behind eloquent speeches and personal letters? Makes one feel like politics today are not so dreadful given how far the beloved 'founding fathers' stooped and the political shenanigans that occurred to a staggering degree as the new government struggled to find a footing. Why the duel? explained fully in (occasionally tedious) detail but a fascinating view of life at the turn of the 18th century America. So interesting re inter Who knew the back-stabbing, gossiping, low-level of discourse masked behind eloquent speeches and personal letters? Makes one feel like politics today are not so dreadful given how far the beloved 'founding fathers' stooped and the political shenanigans that occurred to a staggering degree as the new government struggled to find a footing. Why the duel? explained fully in (occasionally tedious) detail but a fascinating view of life at the turn of the 18th century America. So interesting re international politics of Louisiana Purchase and the complexities of the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Goddard

    Given how fascinating these two characters are, I was surprised to find how unengaging I found this book and how much I had to force myself to finish reading it. As others have noted, it is packed with hundreds of pages of digressionary information that is only tangentially related to the question of who these men were and the issue of their duel. So many names were thrown at me with minimal explanation that I eventually stopped trying to keep up. In fact, I skipped huge chunks of the book. Yes, Given how fascinating these two characters are, I was surprised to find how unengaging I found this book and how much I had to force myself to finish reading it. As others have noted, it is packed with hundreds of pages of digressionary information that is only tangentially related to the question of who these men were and the issue of their duel. So many names were thrown at me with minimal explanation that I eventually stopped trying to keep up. In fact, I skipped huge chunks of the book. Yes, there's a lot of research here, but it's not used with much skill.

  28. 5 out of 5

    TJ

    Not a biography necessarily, but a superb political history of the early Republic -- easily one of the best I've ever read and an excellent companion to "What Hath God Wrought" from the Oxford series. The book delves deeply into the political context, providing the stories, the jabs, the machinations in a highly readable -- almost page-turning -- approach. There's some weakness in the postscript re. Jackson's role in the War of 1812, but that is minor compared to the truly exceptional story this Not a biography necessarily, but a superb political history of the early Republic -- easily one of the best I've ever read and an excellent companion to "What Hath God Wrought" from the Oxford series. The book delves deeply into the political context, providing the stories, the jabs, the machinations in a highly readable -- almost page-turning -- approach. There's some weakness in the postscript re. Jackson's role in the War of 1812, but that is minor compared to the truly exceptional story this tells. Strongly recommended for all American friends.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kent

    takes a psychoanalytical approach to try and understand why the duel between Hamilton and Burr happened; not necessarily a bad approach, but the work reads more like Fleming just wanted to insert every, single, little primary source that he found, which was a lot; In the end, one wonders how anyone during the period could keep track of how politics and political reporting worked as there are so many names, groups of people, secret meetings, rumors, etc.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    It was a very tedious book, but overall it was good. Historical books tend not to be my thing, but this one was decent. I actually had never before heard of this duel, which scares me because it was so important in our nations history and now it is not taught in any classes prior to ninth grade!

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