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Burr: A Novel Paperback – February 15, 2000
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--The New York Times Book Review
"A tragedy, a comedy, a vibrant, leg-kicking life. . . . All of this and much, much more is told in a highly engaging book that teems with bon mots, aphorisms and ironic comments on the political process. . . . Enlightening, fresh and fun." --The Boston Globe
"A novel of Stendhalian proportions. . . . It is probably impossible to be an American and not be fascinated and impressed by Vidal's telescoping of our early history. . . . Always absorbing." --The New Yorker
From the Inside Flap
Burr is a portrait of perhaps the most complex and misunderstood of the Founding Fathers. In 1804, while serving as vice president, Aaron Burr fought a duel with his political nemesis, Alexander Hamilton, and killed him. In 1807, he was arrested, tried, and acquitted of treason. In 1833, Burr is newly married, an aging statesman considered a monster by many. Burr retains much of his political influence if not the respect of all. And he is determined to tell his own story. As his amanuensis, he chooses Charles Schermerhorn Schuyler, a young New York City journalist, and together they explore both Burr's past and the continuing political intrigues of the still young United States.
Top Customer Reviews
Alas, I should have given the book a little more time. When it picks up and the mythical autobiographical journal of Burr begins, this novel becomes entertainment of the highest order. Burr, through Vidal, writes a wickedly amusing first-hand account of many of the seminal points in our nation's young history, from the winter at Valley Forge to Benedict Arnold's early success as a general. In telling his story, Burr never passes up an opportunity to point out George Washington's ineptitude as a field general or his plumpness, Jefferson's lack of military duty and his resemblance to the mulatto children living at Monticello, Ethan Allen's lack of popularity with his superiors, etc. Nobody is spared, nothing is sacred in a Gore Vidal novel.
As for the historical accuracy, Vidal points out in an afterword that with a couple of very minor anachronisms (which he details), every character in the book acts as he or she did in real life - their speech and writings are borrowed from actual correspondence, and the historical events depicted are painstakingly researched (Vidal took 10 years to write the book). Even narrator Charlie Schuyler's girlfriend, the prostitute Helen Jewitt, is based upon a real life character. So while some graduate students might object to a phrase or two, and perhaps some Jeffersonians will object to the two-faced opportunist Jefferson portrayed here, for most of us with a casual interest in history the book educates as it entertains.
I don't quite see how Vidal is going to top Burr, for in his choice of protagonist he found a worthy successor to Milton's Satan in Paradise Lost. Before reading this novel, I only knew that Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel, and that he served as Jefferson's Vice President. But set firmly in his time, and seen through the eyes of Charley Schuyler, Burr acquires a wonderful depth. By the time this novel was drawing to a close, I was reading it as slowly as I dared, reluctant to give up its pleasures. In my lust for fiction, I must say this doesn't happen very often.
In Burr, the political strategist best remembered as the killer of the man on the ten-dollar bill is given Vidal's star treatment.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I kept my computer nearby to Google people and events during that time in American history. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Addie Flower
A wonderful look at an interesting era. This is the history you never learned in school.Published 4 days ago by Richard Newton
There was a lot that was interesting in this book but it was not what I expected. It was a rambling narration of very one sided rememberances and very little that agreed with... Read morePublished 6 days ago by Sandra Knopf
In reading this, I felt like I knew some of the characters. I loved Aaron Burr, of course, all of the writings were mostly his side of the way he saw things. Read morePublished 10 days ago by JoAnn Tripoli
Interesting take on presenting the story of Aaron Burr. By using a fictitious character as narrator, Vidal is able to share facts in an original way.Published 16 days ago by tscootch