Saturday, November 14, 2015

Aaron and Alexander


Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History
Written and Illustrated by Don Brown
Roaring Brook Press, 2015. Informational Picture Book.

"Who shot Alexander Hamilton?" is among trivia's most famous questions, but how much do we really know about the duel between Hamilton and Aaron Burr? Don Brown offers up a thoughtful version of the story, one that tries to draw parallels between these two men whose fates would intertwine.

For most of this story, one wouldn't expect it to end in a bloody duel. In fact, it portrays two eerily-similar lives in the colonial era, with Burr and Hamilton interacting as they each help plant the seeds of the American republic. The history here is presented in an easily digested manner, and readers will be fascinated by many fun facts about our nation's early history. Obviously, the story ends with Hamilton's death, but the author thoughtfully provides a lengthy endnote that may help answer any lingering questions.

Aaron and Alexander is a surprisingly entertaining look at a unique event, but more importantly, it is a thoughtful and empathetic read. This is not an attempt to glorify or sensationalize an isolated moment, but rather a chance for readers to better understand how and why two men could find themselves in such a moment in the first place.

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