Fallen Founder

  • by Nancy Isenberg
  • Narrated by Scott Brick
  • 19 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Generations have been told that Aaron Burr was a betrayer: of Alexander Hamilton, of his country, of those who had nobler ideas. But that version has been shaped by historians and writers from the 18th century on who were blinded by tabloid reports and propaganda created by Burr's political enemies during his lifetime. It is time to discover the real Aaron Burr. Nancy Isenberg's eye-opening, painstakingly researched biography reveals a true patriot. A brave participant in the Revolutionary War and an Enlightenment figure as much as Jefferson, he was a feminist and an inspired politician, statesman, and legislator who promoted decency instead of the factionalism that threatened the solidity of the young nation. He was a brilliant orator and lawyer who served as New York's attorney general and senator, before his election as vice president. Burr was, in short, a loyal citizen who had the bad fortune to make a powerful enemy early in his career. Alexander Hamilton was preoccupied with Burr for more than a decade, and subverted his career at every turn through outright lies and slanderous letters. Hamilton and Burr's other political rivals successfully denounced Burr as a man of extreme tastes, but the facts show him to be a man of moderation and open-mindedness generations ahead of time. Isenberg shows the gritty reality of 18th-century America, with its cutthroat politics, partisan maneuvering, sexual indiscretions, financial fiascos, and media slander. A brilliant restoration of a figure who ran afoul of history, Fallen Founder is a stunningly modern story.


What the Critics Say

"Striking." (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


The author of "Fallen Founder" notes Hamilton left an "apologia" in case he was killed by Burr's shot, but Burr left no such note for posterity. There was no need; she has written a lengthy apologia on Burr's behalf. I found myself at times laughing aloud while listening to this book because of the biased nature of the text. Essentially, the thesis of the book is, "Hamilton, bad; Burr, good." An odd approach for an author whose prologue notes her disgust with all prior biased Burr scholarship. While the book is lengthy and comprehensive (especially post-youth), its pro-Burr bias becomes predictable and significantly detracts from the scholarship. This book was a huge disappointment; I would skip it and just read Joseph Ellis' account of the Burr/Hamilton duel in "Founding Brothers." Finally, though Burr may have been around at the time of the "founding," there is certainly nothing in this book to suggest that Burr was himself one of "the founders."

The narration itself is creditable, especially given the length of the book and the need to delineate historical quotations from the author's prose.
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- F. Reyes

Correct your history

Have you read John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, Founding Fathers, 1776? If so Fallen Founder is a must read. It is a revelation if you consider Aaron Burr anything less than a peer of the great leaders of his time. I would also recommend it if you consider the politics of our time spiteful, vindictive, or petty. Our leaders are light weights in comparison. I had to give some thought as to why I did not enjoy this book as much as those above, in fact I stalled in some sections. I believe that the answer was outlined by the author. The others have volumes remaining of their own writings, and had champions willing to contribute to their legacy long after they were gone. Much of Burr was lost and no proponent survived to promote his standing. The author is forced to conjecture in many areas, which she readily states. Also I felt there was a sense of overly sympathetic presentation at times, but given forgivable given the starting block.

Scott Brick, brilliant as always, but his acting talents are wasted on this narrative presentation.
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- Amazon Customer

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-12-2007
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio