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Fallen Founder

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In Fallen Founder, a rather defensive biography of the notorious Aaron Burr, historian Nancy Isenberg tries to paint the statesman — an alleged profligate and traitor, not to mention the man who fatally wounded Alexander Hamilton — as a victim of history. Without a ”protective posterity to project his ?greatness’ through the ages,” the early Republican has become a political whipping boy, she writes. Isenberg forcefully argues that Burr may have been more honest and more sensitive to women’s rights than Hamilton and Jefferson, and that at worst, he only acted as badly as his contemporaries. Her rationalization of Burr’s behavior often seems to stretch the evidence, but her portrait of the founding fathers as less than perfect men is an enlightening look at a generally lionized era. B

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