Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, And The Future Of America by Thomas Fleming
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.
Thomas Fleming is the author of more than forty books, including The New Dealers' War, Duel, and Liberty! The American Revolution, as well as best-selling novels about America's war experience such as Time and Tide and The Officers' Wives. Fleming is a frequent guest on and contributor to NPR, PBS, A&E, and the History Channel. He lives in New York City and Westbrook, Connecticut.
Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Future of America 4 out of 5based on
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Fleming has managed to present a familiar story in a vibrant and compelling manner. Hamilton and Burr are no cardboard patriots, but rather Fleming depicts them as complex yet flawed political animals, as much driven by their own devils as by the perceived slights of each other. There is a tremendous sense of sadness in the realization that the fatal duel is both inevitable yet preventable. Nor is Burr painted as the typical one-dimensional villain. Fleming also manages to convey the tawdry nature of politics and journalism in the early days of the republic. Clearly, the Duel is no effort to replace fallen heroes on a pedestal. In the end one feels sadness for both men and a sense of the wasted potential. Two great examples of American hubris and an eye opener concerning the political divisiveness of the Jeffersonian era. Each morning on my way to work on Wall Street I pass by Trinity Church and directly by Hamilton's grave. Fleming's book brings home the full extent of the giant who is buried at the site and the absolute idiocy which led him to his premature death.
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