Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, And The Future Of America

Thomas Fleming

Published by Basic Books, 1999
ISBN 10: 0465017363 / ISBN 13: 9780465017362
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Synopsis: All school children know the story of the fatal duel between Hamilton and Burr - but do they really? In this remarkable retelling, Thomas Fleming takes the reader into the post-revolutionary world of 1804, 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 to their murderous confrontation in Weehawken, New Jersey.Readers will find this is popular narrative history at its most authoritative, and authoritative history at its most readable.

Review: To judge by many standard histories, the revolutionary founders of the United States came equipped with wings and haloes. They were anything but saintly, however; their behavior, public and private, was often scandalous. One of the most outrageous men of the day was Alexander Hamilton, the Federalist leader and architect of the American banking and judiciary systems, whose amorous exploits and political maneuverings alike were the stuff of legend. Tangled in a succession of failed business ventures and personal intrigues, and convinced that the might of the United States should not be hampered by such inconveniences as checks and balances, Hamilton fell afoul of just about everyone he encountered in his quest for influence and wealth.

To his eventual misfortune, one of those he crossed was Thomas Jefferson's vice president, Aaron Burr. Many histories of their tangled relationship personalize their differences, and, to be sure, they disliked each other with splendid fervor. Thomas Fleming's contribution to the often-told tale is to ground the Hamilton-Burr rivalry in the politics of the day--a politics complicated by many contending ideological factions, powerful interest groups, and lobbyists. Writing with vigor and clarity, Fleming points to the clay feet on which Hamilton and Burr marched to their sad destiny, and he crafts an exceptionally interesting portrait of the early Republic. --Gregory McNamee

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Title: Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, And ...
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Used: Good

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