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Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 10, 2007
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From 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In this positive portrayal of the controversial Aaron Burr (1756-1836), Isenberg departs from all previous biographers, deploring their lack of basic research. Although she acknowledges that studying Burr is hampered by the loss of his papers in a shipwreck, Isenberg more than compensates by tapping negative publicity disseminated by Burr's political enemies. Comparing their scurrilous reports with private descriptions of Burr as cultured, well liked, and progressive for the times (Isenberg approves him as a "feminist"), the author argues that Burr's reputation was marred not by genuine defects of character but by political competition. And she details the three episodes on which opinion of Burr rises and falls: his tie with Jefferson for the presidency in the 1800 election, his 1804 duel with Hamilton, and his 1807 treason trial. Making a strong case for revising received wisdom about Burr, Isenberg significantly contributes to the history of the early republic. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Too bad our history has been distorted against this man!