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In the summer of 1804, two of America's most eminent statesmen squared off, pistols raised, on a bluff along the Hudson River. That two such men would risk not only their lives but the stability of the young country they helped forge is almost beyond comprehension. Yet we know that it happened. The question is why.
In War of Two, John Sedgwick explores the long-standing conflict between founding father Alexander Hamilton and Vice President Aaron Burr. A study in contrasts from birth, they had been compatriots, colleagues, and even friends. But above all they were rivals. Matching each other's ambition and skill as lawyers in New York, they later battled for power along political fault lines that would not only decide the future of the United States but define it. A series of letters between Burr and Hamilton suggest the duel was fought over an unflattering comment made at a dinner party. But another letter, written by Hamilton the night before the event, provides critical insight into his true motivation. It was addressed to former speaker of the House Theodore Sedgwick, a trusted friend of both men and the author's own ancestor. John Sedgwick suggests that Hamilton saw Burr not merely as a personal rival but as a threat to the nation. Burr would prove that fear justified after Hamilton's death when, haunted by the legacy of his longtime adversary, he embarked on an imperial scheme to break the Union apart.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Jean on 11-25-15
Sedgwick has written a parallel biography of two prominent figures from the Federalist era whose lives came together on the dueling ground. I have always been interested in Alexander Hamilton and have read most of the biographies about him. Hamilton was the chief aide to George Washington during the American Revolution and author of most of the Federalist Papers. He was the first secretary of the Treasury. Aaron Burr was a prominent attorney and was Vice President under Thomas Jefferson. I found it most interesting to be able to compare the two men’s lives side by side; I feel as if I have a better understanding of the two men.
Sedgwick goes into the emotional and psychological makeup of the pair. The author presents evenhanded and insightful profiles of the two men. He states that Hamilton was hyperactive and produced volumes of work and had an intense devotion to the Federalist cause. Burr was a brooding and libidinous and tended to communicate in code. Sedgwick states he was inspired by Gore Vidal’s novel “Burr” (1973). The book is well written and meticulously researched. Sedgwick is a great storyteller therefore the book reads almost like a novel.
Sedgwick wrote about his own famous family in his book “In My Blood” (2007) from the revolutionary era of Theodore Sedgwick to modern day actress Kyra Sedgwick. P. J. Ochlan did a good job narrating the book. The book is fairly long at about 18 hours.
17 of 19 people found this review helpful
By electricblue201 on 04-29-16
History comes alive!
Call Bo I knew a lot about the duel didn't know a lot about the events that ran up to it nor did I know what happened to Burr after the death of Hamilton so I really appreciated this in depth well researched history. I hated the narrators voice he sounded like a voiceover commercial.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful