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Duel! Burr and Hamilton's Deadly War of Words Hardcover – June 24, 2008

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 11 years
  • Grade Level: 2 and up
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Walker Childrens; First Edition edition (June 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802795838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802795830
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 11.3 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #862,650 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 3–6—Fradin's account of the Aaron Burr/Alexander Hamilton feud makes compelling, child-appropriate reading. The author vividly shows how some aspects of politics have not changed over the past 200 years, including negative campaigning and smear tactics. The account is short and fast moving with Fradin choosing key points in Hamilton's and Burr's lives that illustrate how they arrived at the duel. Describing events from their difficult childhoods, their service as aides to George Washington, their work as lawyers in New York and in positions in federal government, the author demonstrates that both men were to blame for the situation. His focus remains consistent in leading up to their final confrontation in 1804. Beginning with an arresting close-up perspective of Burr's dueling pistol on the front cover, the illustrations capture attention and convey details of the topic. The characters' expressive faces add emotion to the facts. Rendered in watercolor and gouache with pen-and-ink accents, the pictures are realistic, but not in a photographic sense. Incorporating primary sources in a dramatic style, Duel! presents a gripping view of men revered by history but not really known.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Fights are always attention getters, so even children who don’t know much about Aaron Burr (third vice president of the U.S.) and Alexander Hamilton (a signer of the Constitution) will be hooked by this dramatic picture-book account of their deadly quarrel. Not that Fradin makes the duel heroic in any way; in fact, he plainly states that both men were at fault. What the two had in common was a difficult childhood, and the book’s opening pages, illustrated with stirring paintings, tell the stories of the boys, alone and desperate. Both men also took part in the American Revolution; battle scenes show each engaged in combat. When Fradin deals with the divisive politics, Day’s ink, watercolor, and gouache illustrations ably show the body language as the enemies furiously confront one another, stalk off angrily, and fume alone—until their secret fight becomes public. Then comes the duel itself. Tension builds for several pages before Hamilton is shot (he dies the next day), leaving Burr in disgrace. The words and art humanize the history for children, who will welcome the bibliography that can lead them to more facts. Grades 3-6. --Hazel Rochman

More About the Author

"I have the time of my life as a children's author," says Dennis Brindell Fradin, prolific author of close to one hundred and fifty books. "I try not to let a day of the year go by without working." Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, he earned a creative writing degree from Northwestern University, then taught elementary school for twelve years. In 1989, the National College of Education honored him as the Educator of the Year. He is married to writer Judith Bloom Fradin, who did the photo research on this book. They live in Evanston, Illinois and have three grown children.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richie Partington VINE VOICE on May 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
To me, it has always been those who dealt with words and ideas -- such as Jefferson and Franklin and Hamilton -- who are so much fun to study and who are so central to gaining an understanding of what America is really all about. That Alexander Hamilton's life ended during his forties was clearly tragic for the nation in that it forever deprived us of the continued wisdom and perspective of one of the great minds behind the founding of America. Even back before I became familiar with Hamilton's writings, it just seemed so terrible that his life had ended in a duel. (Just think about how much more civilized life is in the Twenty-first century: Today he and Burr would have been dissing each other on competing cable talk shows and blogging scurrilous tidbits about one another online.)

"The next day Burr lost the election for governor. He was furious that Hamilton's name-calling had again played a major role in his defeat.
"Burr could have written a newspaper article blasting Hamilton or asked to meet with him to iron out their differences. Instead Burr sent Hamilton notes demanding that he apologize for his remarks -- or fight a duel.
"Hamilton could have apologized or arranged to meet with Burr to make peace. Instead he accepted Burr's challenge."

One of the benefits of great, nonfiction picture books for older readers is that they can turn us on to new topics and catch our interest without our having to invest more than a few minutes. The book should sell itself with its eye-catching cover featuring the extreme close-up perspective of being just behind Hamilton's coat and gun, as he faces Aaron Burr.

While we may not have an interest in reading at length about Alexander Hamilton or Aaron Burr before learning about their deadly altercation in DUEL!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I used this book in my high school classroom to introduce the idea of dueling in generally and the specific duel between Hamilton and Burr. Some of the information is of course surface-level or generalized, but for an introduction, it is quite good for any age audience. It served as a great launching point. I used an Elmo so I could project the book on a large screen to share it with the class. It is well-made in terms of writing and illustrations, which are actually quite beautiful.
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Today, we find the duel between Hamilton and Burr to be interesting because it seems so improbable that a sitting vice president would kill a former secretary of the treasury. Can you imagine Joe Biden killing Don Rumsfeld in a duel? This is an interesting thought for an adult with some sense of how the American government works. However, "Duel!" was written for children seven years old and up. I think the Hamilton and Burr duel is way to obscure for a young child. What my nine year old got out of this book was how duels were conducted in the early Nineteenth Century. "Duel!" is well written and beautifully illustrated. But honestly, I think this is a book a parent will enjoy more than the child will.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jintili on January 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a comment on the editor's description of the book and not on the book itself. The description refers to the duel between Hamilton and Burr as being between the "secretary of the treasury" and the U.S. "vice president". First of all, Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury from 1789-1795. Therefore, when the duel took place in 1804, Hamilton was no longer Secretary of the Treasury but rather an attorney in private practice in New York. Secondly, the titles "Secretary of the Treasury" and "Vice President" are just that: titles. As such, they should have been capitalized in the editor's description.
Thirdly, one would be hard pressed to describe Burr as a "founder", as stated in the description. One hopes that the content of the book is more accurate than the blurb describing it.
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