Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr

( 8 )

Overview

A controversial challenge to the works of Ron Chernow and David McCullough

With Fallen Founder , Nancy Isenberg plumbs rare and obscure sources to shed new light on everyone's favorite founding villain. The Aaron Burr whom we meet through Isenberg's eye-opening biography is a feminist, an Enlightenment figure on par with Jefferson, a patriot, and-most importantly-a man with powerful enemies in an age of vitriolic political fighting. Revealing the gritty reality of ...

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Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr

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Overview

A controversial challenge to the works of Ron Chernow and David McCullough

With Fallen Founder , Nancy Isenberg plumbs rare and obscure sources to shed new light on everyone's favorite founding villain. The Aaron Burr whom we meet through Isenberg's eye-opening biography is a feminist, an Enlightenment figure on par with Jefferson, a patriot, and-most importantly-a man with powerful enemies in an age of vitriolic political fighting. Revealing the gritty reality of eighteenth-century America, Fallen Founder is the authoritative restoration of a figure who ran afoul of history and a much-needed antidote to the hagiography of the revolutionary era.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Founding Father, Revolutionary War hero, vice president, businessman, political strategist, adventurer, alleged murderer and traitor: The public personas of Aaron Burr (1756-1836) are almost too numerous to assess. In recent biographies, Ron Chernow, Joseph Ellis, and Gordon Wood have all disparaged him. Nancy Isenberg's Fallen Founder uses primary documents to restore the image of this complex man whose story has been mainly told to us through the words of his enemies. A major biography of a most vilified man.
Washington Post
Isenberg's meticulous biography reveals a gifted lawyer, politician and orator who championed civility in government and even feminist ideals, in a political climate that bears a marked resemblance to our own.
Boston Globe
[A] sterling biography.
New York Times Book Review
Full of insight and new research. It is an important and engaging account.
Jill Lepore
Isenberg’s call for a better, less fetishistic history of the founding fathers is eloquent and inspiring. And her study of Burr is full of insight and new research. It is an important and engaging account.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Does Burr belong in the pantheon of founding fathers? Or is he, as historians have asserted ever since he fatally shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel, a faux founder who happened to be in the right place at the right time? Was he really the enigmatic villain, the political schemer who lacked any moral core, the sexual pervert, the cherubic-faced slanderer so beloved of popular imagination? This striking new biography by Isenberg (Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America) argues that Burr was, indeed, the real thing, a founder "at the center of nation building" and a "capable leader in New York political circles." Interestingly, if controversially, Isenberg believes Burr was "the only founder to embrace feminism," the only one who "adhered to the ideal that reason should transcend party differences." Far from being an empty vessel, she says, Burr defended freedom of speech, wanted to expand suffrage and was a proponent of equal rights. Burr was not without his faults, she concludes, but then, none of the other founders was entirely angelic, either, and his actions must be viewed in the context of his political times. As this important book reminds us, America's founders behaved like ordinary human beings even when they were performing their extraordinary deeds. Illus. (May 14)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143113713
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/29/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 624,021
  • Product dimensions: 5.52 (w) x 8.46 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Isenberg is the Mary Frances Barnard Chair in nineteenth-century American history at the University of Tulsa. She is the author of Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America, which was chosen as the best book in the field for 1999 by the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic.

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Table of Contents


Preface     vii
Acknowledgments     xi
List of Illustrations     xvii
A Man of Promising Parts     1
To Concert with my Brother Officers     19
Such are the Letters I Love     55
An Unprejudiced Mind     85
A Certain Little Senator     129
The Statesman and the Soldier     177
The Ruin of the Vice President     223
Little Quid Emperor     271
Will O' Wisp Treason     319
That Stranger was Aaron Burr     367
Epilogue: He Used no Unnecessary Words     405
Notes     415
Index     523
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Was a Learning Experience

    As an example of the headline, I had forgotten that Burr was the Vice President of the United States when he faced Alexander Hamilton in the infamous duel.

    And as VP, a few weeks after the duel he was the presiding officer of the United States Senate.

    The author is very sympathetic to Burr - and as such she is in the minority, both amongst historians as well as amongst Burr's contemporaries.

    But - all the charges against Burr were refuted in open trials - maybe it is correct to return him to a place of honor amongst the founding generation?

    Read, and read some more, and decide for yourself.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 1, 2013

    Highly Recommended - Challenges our Mythological American History.

    For history lovers for sure. Clearly written, well researched and an enlightened view of a vice-President who has been maligned far too long. History has too be objective and report both sides of an historical figure. Too often, person's go disgraced when they don't stand up and speak or write for themselves in the face of critics or foes. Perhaps we need to reassess without bias what a person's true contribution to our history is. Read it!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2007

    Burr is still Burr

    Nancy Isenberg has a very nice writing style -- very smooth, very fluid. Be that as it may, the author fails in her attempt to rehabilitate Aaron Burr's reputation. It has the pitch and deft touch of revisionist propaganda: Oh, he wan't THAT bad.' Well, yes he was. But if you're a feminist, and/or relish sympathy for the devil, you-will-love . . . this book. And Feminism is the one PC sicpassim you can count on to greet you in every fluid, apologetic chapter though, I must confess, it's odd that late seventeenth and early eighteenth century mores seem to be ignored with the exception of the duel at Weehawkin. That said, given the times and the totality of circumstacnes juxtaposed beside Burr's supposed feminism, not to mention his Ephialtesian mind-set, in the final analysis, or so it seems, Isenberg reveals a startling paradox: testosterone really does matter. To exonerate Burr as the scoundrel he is often made out to be or to plead that he is only one of many who was victimized by other Children of the Enlightenment or, perhaps, 'not so bad' as compared to the other Founding Fathers well, then, the narrative should have caught the wave and particle connections through the the prism of the founding era rather than from the singular angle of the 21st century's moral relativism. Isemberg's writing style is very, very nice. But -- at least for me -- she vandalized, what should have been a fine piece of work, with too much of the 'F' word.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 5, 2009

    a scholarly and thorough biography

    well written and worth the price

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2013

    Really enjoyed this thoughtful, well-researched reconsideration

    Really enjoyed this thoughtful, well-researched reconsideration of Burr.  History has largely ignored the reasons why he was such a rising young star among the founding generation, in favor of unquestioning acceptance of his villainy.  This book restores some well-deserved luster to his oft-maligned reputation. In the end, we are left with a more plausible human replete with myriad accomplishments and failures, in lieu of the villainous caricature of American mythology. Refreshing read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2013

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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