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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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Derek on 11-11-07
This is a very well-researched book that is well-written and presented with a flair that ensures interest from beginning to end. Unfortunately, the story of Aaron Burr’s life is presented through the lens of a Burr apologist. Nancy Isenberg goes to great lengths to damn Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, the entire Federalist party, and most of the Republicans – but spares one person from her scorn: Aaron Burr.
I very much enjoyed listening to the other side of many events that I have heard/read time and time again over the years – only presented in such a way as to always make Burr the hero and everyone else, save Theodosia, manipulative malcontents set on destroying the virtuous Burr. I think it’s critical to hear varied opinions, and this book succeeds at presenting several. If nothing else, the presentation was thought-provoking and has had me scouring the internet for tidbits of info to validate or disprove the notions presented by Isenberg as well as my own interpretation of 1787 through 1820.
One point of contention I do have with Isenberg is in the epilogue, where she literally calls out other authors. She specifically calls out, for instance, Ron Chernow for his 2004 Alexander Hamilton, for his decidedly unfair presentation of Burr. She references Hamiltonian’s as “Hamilton Apologists”, evidently because she believes Hamilton has so much to apologize for. Her attacks on Hamilton, both in the epilogue and peppered throughout the entire book, seem to be too personal for a historian – as if Hamilton had reached through the fog of time to insult her honor personally in some way. I must say this element of the book is distracting from a study of Burr.
Overall, I think this book is well done. If you are looking for a challenge that offers perspectives you may not have heard before on topics that relate to Aaron Burr in any way, this is your book.
A Hamilton Apologist
9 of 11 people found this review helpful
By Leigh A on 11-09-07
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.
15 of 19 people found this review helpful