Lawyer and author Casey (The Trial of Bat Shea) paints an unflattering picture of Burr as a cur whose “cynicism, power lust and lechery” destroy his potential. This venality makes for riveting reading but can feel one-sided. Hamilton’s character is more dimensional as he struggles with his decisions, influenced by burdens of regret and responsibility that he carries like a sack over his shoulder. Casey seamlessly integrates political intrigues with daily life and gives Hamilton’s wife, Eliza, a considerable role, showing how much marriage and family meant to them both.
After Eliza extracts a promise that her husband will retire from public life, powerful men, including her politician father, try to tempt his return. Eliza fears for him and has increasingly gloomy portents about his renewed involvement. “Have you ever thought about my suffering?” she cries, both to her husband and, perhaps, to historians who have omitted women from their histories. Readers interested in Revolutionary War history and the politics of Jefferson’s presidency will be enthralled by this portrayal of Hamilton and Burr’s rivalry and the multitude of relationships surrounding and tugging at them.
Takeaway: Fans of American history will love this fictionalization of Alexander Hamilton’s political and family life in the years leading to his death.
Great for fans of Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, Joanne Freeman’s Affairs of Honor, Gore Vidal’s Burr.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: A-