The Duel: The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr

The Duel: The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr

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In curiously parallel lives, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were both orphaned at an early age. Both were brilliant students who attended college—one at Princeton, the other at Columbia—and studied law. Both were young staff officers under General George Washington, and both became war heroes. Politics beckoned them, and each served in the newly formed government of the fledgling nation. Why, then, did these two face each other at dawn in a duel that ended with death for one and opprobrium for the other?

Judith St. George's lively biography, told in alternating chapters, brings to life two complex men who played major roles in the formation of the United States.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524757595
Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/04/2016
Edition description: Unabridged
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 5.80(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Judith St. George has published dozens of successful nonfiction books for children, including the Caldecott Medal-winning So You Want to Be President? and the historical Turning Point series, including You’re On Your Way, Teddy RooseveltStand Tall, Abe Lincoln; and Take the Lead, George Washington. You can visit her online at

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The Duel: The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
KeithMaddox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a well-told description of the lives of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. It is told in a dual structure, revolving around similarities in the life stories of the two men who would one day become mortal enemies. Each chapter is divided into two parts, centering on each personality, though much of the story becomes repeated, for example during the description of events during the Revolutionary War and beyond. This biography is engaging and well-written, and is definitely the kind of book that is difficult to put down. This book has an extensive index and a fair bibliography, though there are only two illustrations (portraits - do you want to guess of whom?). The strongest two features of this book are that the two lives are painted in a realistic and accessable, emotionally engaging way, and that the reader can quickly familiarize himself or herself with the personalities, issues, and concerns of the time. This book would make an excellent introduction to the setting of the American Revolution, and in particular, the very early days of the Republic. I predict the reader will be surprised several times by how a situation taken for granted today (such as the location of the national capital) was arrived at, or how either Alexander Hamilton or Aaron Burr was instrumental in shaping something now taken for granted. The negatives of this book are mainly in depth. For one thing, St. George does not choose to explain the background behind many of the issues encountered in the book. For example, the economic situation under the Articles of Confederation is summarized in one sentence, as is Hamilton's idea for the federal assumption of state Revolutionary War debt. Both of these concepts can easily merit whole books in their own right, and I find it hard in particular to condone such a passing reference to perhaps Hamilton's greatest effect on our modern lives. Another glaring example is the rules of dueling (considering the book's focus). The reader can follow the action through context, but it does seem difficult to accept that the book contains no general description of the phenomenon. A related negative is the lack of the book's illustrations. The book could have used pictures (or maps) of New York (which was important in both men's lives) their backgrounds (Hamilton was orphaned at an early age and grew up in the British Caribbean; Burr was orphaned at an early age, but was from a very prominent family, including his grandfather, the famous preacher Jonathan Edwards), and their military and political careers (in particular, page 62 describes how Hamilton designed and organized everything for the U. S. army in preparation for war with France in 1798 including his own uniform, which I dare say any reader would want to see). One final concern with the book is not one that comes easily to me, but I have learned in multicultural classes that one example of sexism in the curriculum we teach is the tendency to describe the great figures of history as gallant and charming ladies' men, which effectively puts female students "in their place" and encourages male students to think this acceptable. St. George's book certainly describes Hamilton and Burr as gallant and charming ladies' men, though to be fair, St. George points out how important Burr took his daughter Theodosia's education (and how successful she was in it), and refers to the hurt caused by Hamilton's eagerness to clear up a scandal concerning blackmail by admitting he was unfaithful to his wife (rather than suffer the public to think he was untrustworthy with public money). In all, this was a highly enjoyable, readable, and enlightening book, though it could have benefitted from a bit more rigor in explaining context and in describing research methods. I think this is a delightful snapshot to understand the issues and personalities that shaped America in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, though I would reluctant to ask students to use t
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Evansmom99 More than 1 year ago
What an amazing story of two great men who had so much in their life to offer. One respected, one not. Both powerful. One greedy. Both intellegent. Two men, one duel, one dead. Great for 5th grade and up.
brtvog More than 1 year ago
The Duel by Judith St. George brings history life. It brought us through Aaron Burr's and Alexander Hamilton's life. This page turning book ranges from their child life and an exciting conspiracy to set up a new country that was led by Aaron Burr. By the end of the book one man will be dead and the other on the run because of a fatal duel between the two. What made this book so good was that you felt that you were in Hamilton's and Burr's shoes. She also does a good job of transitioning from Burr's life to Hamilton's life; other times when I have read books like that it was often confusing and hard to follow. Overall this was a very good book, but the only negative thing about this book was the length. I believe that this book will appeal to readers of all ages. Others books that Judith St. George has also written other historical books, like Crazy Horse and The White House. I would rate this book a 4 out of 5.