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(09/09/2008) Burr by Gore Vidal. New York. 1973. Random House. keywords: Literature America. 433 pages. Jacket design by Jack Ribik. 0394480244. November 1973.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   Aaron Burr, a hero of the American Revolution, served as vice-president under Thomas Jefferson, took the life of Alexander Hamilton in a duel and was tried for treason when Jefferson accused him of plotting to make an empire of his own in the western territories. This novel is in the form of a memoir, told partly by Burr at the end of his long life and partly by a young journalist in whom Burr confides. Though the memoir itself and the young journalist are fictional, the facts are actual. The portraits of the major characters - Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, the Madisons, Jackson, Van Buren - are drawn from their own words and from the observations of their contemporaries. The result is a brilliantly realized and enormously engaging work of fiction which accurately describes the founding struggles and the endless intrigues of the new United States. Burr himself is a character of great fascination, a dark shadow over the early nation, who lived out his long life partly as a suspected traitor and partly as one of the most brilliant, heroic and colorful of the founding fathers - a character as complex and ambiguous as America itself. The scenes of battle at Quebec and Monmouth Courthouse, the long winter at Valley Forge, are done with great vigor and clarity; the political intrigues are rendered as if they were today's headlines, the characters as precise and alive as they must have seemed at the time. BURR is the rarest of books - a powerfully readable historical novel which at the same tone re-creates with scrupulous accuracy and the originality of a major historical imagination die most significant years in the history of America.

 

 

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