Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burrby Nancy Isenberg
Lin-Manuel Miranda's play "Hamilton" has reignited interest in the founding fathers; and it features Aaron Burr among its vibrant cast of characters. With Fallen Founder, Nancy Isenberg plumbs rare/i>/b>/i>
From the author of White Trash, a controversial challenge to the views of the Founding Fathers offered by Ron Chernow and David McCullough
Lin-Manuel Miranda's play "Hamilton" has reignited interest in the founding fathers; and it features Aaron Burr among its vibrant cast of characters. 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.
The New York Times
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
New York Times Book Review
"A sterling biography" Boston Globe
"Isenberg offers justice to a maligned man"
Wall Street Journal
'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."
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Meet the Author
Nancy Isenberg is the author of the New York Times bestseller White Trash: The 400-year untold history of class in America. She is the coauthor, with Andrew Burstein, of Madison and Jefferson. She is the T. Harry Williams Professor of American History at LSU, and writes regularly for Salon.com. Isenberg is the winner of the 2016 Walter & Lillian Lowenfels Criticism Award from the Before Columbus Foundation and was #4 on the 2016 Politico 50 list. She lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Charlottesville, Virginia.
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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.
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!
well written and worth the price
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!
VERY VERY biased book. There are some historical inaccuracies blatantly stated and throughout the whole book rails on how historians poetry other founding fathers and in the same breath does the very same with Burr! Its unbelievable! I got this book because I wanted a different perspective, however I am blown away at the pro-Burr anti-Hamilton sentiment the author consistently portrays. This book is infuriating to read as a historian myself.
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.