Reviews for Duel! : Burr and Hamilton's Deady War of Words


Booklist Reviews 2008 June #1
*Starred Review* Fights are always attention getters, so even children who don't know much about Aaron Burr (third vice president of the U.S.) and Alexander Hamilton (a signer of the Constitution) will be hooked by this dramatic picture-book account of their deadly quarrel. Not that Fradin makes the duel heroic in any way; in fact, he plainly states that both men were at fault. What the two had in common was a difficult childhood, and the book's opening pages, illustrated with stirring paintings, tell the stories of the boys, alone and desperate. Both men also took part in the American Revolution; battle scenes show each engaged in combat. When Fradin deals with the divisive politics, Day's ink, watercolor, and gouache illustrations ably show the body language as the enemies furiously confront one another, stalk off angrily, and fume alone--until their secret fight becomes public. Then comes the duel itself. Tension builds for several pages before Hamilton is shot (he dies the next day), leaving Burr in disgrace. The words and art humanize the history for children, who will welcome the bibliography that can lead them to more facts. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Spring
Concentrating on personalities rather than larger political questions, Fradin describes the early years of Burr and Hamilton, what the men had in common, and the beginnings of their animosity. Day's ink, watercolor, and gouache illustrations beautifully pace the narrative, highlighting the hostility between the two by shifting perspectives throughout. A brief sidebar about the demise of dueling is appended. Reading list. Bib. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2008 #4
On the verso, Aaron Burr takes aim, raising his large pistol: "As the sun rises on a July morning in 1804, two men stand ten paces apart on a New Jersey cliffside." The gun hovers over the text on the facing page, challenging the reader to examine the narrative within. After this compelling introduction, Fradin flashes back to the early years of Burr and Alexander Hamilton, what they had in common (unfortunate childhoods, service in the Revolutionary War), and the beginnings of their animosity (starting when they served as aides-de-camp to George Washington, continuing through their careers as opposing lawyers, and escalating when Burr defeated Hamilton's father-in-law for a senate seat). When Burr runs for president and later for governor of New York, Hamilton denounces him; Burr challenges Hamilton to the infamous duel in which Hamilton loses his life and Burr his reputation. This introduction to the period concentrates on personalities rather than larger political questions, leaving more sophisticated inquiry for the recommended readings in the back matter. Day's ink, watercolor, and gouache illustrations beautifully pace the narrative, highlighting the hostility between the two by shifting perspectives throughout. A bibliography, further reading, and a brief sidebar about the demise of dueling are appended. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2008 June #2
Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr had much in common, yet their feud led to a duel that left one dead and the other forever discredited. Both had difficult childhoods, both fought heroically in the American Revolution and both rose to high positions in the new government. Hamilton was a signer of the Constitution and secretary of the treasury under George Washington. Burr ran for president in 1800 and tied Jefferson but had to settle for the vice presidency after the House of Representatives chose Jefferson. Fradin paces his tale deliberately, alternating his accounts of his principles' parallel ascent to power. Young readers may have trouble following the intricacies of the history, but the drama of the duel, beautifully rendered in ink with watercolor and gouache and stretched out over several page turns, will catch their attention. Day's illustrations, reminiscent of Robert Andrew Parker's, perfectly capture the drama, and the spacious page design heightens the effect. A nice follow-up to the pair's collaboration, Let It Begin Here! (2005). (bibliography, map) (Informational picture book. 7-11) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2008 July

Gr 3-6-- Fradin's account of the Aaron Burr/Alexander Hamilton feud makes compelling, child-appropriate reading. The author vividly shows how some aspects of politics have not changed over the past 200 years, including negative campaigning and smear tactics. The account is short and fast moving with Fradin choosing key points in Hamilton's and Burr's lives that illustrate how they arrived at the duel. Describing events from their difficult childhoods, their service as aides to George Washington, their work as lawyers in New York and in positions in federal government, the author demonstrates that both men were to blame for the situation. His focus remains consistent in leading up to their final confrontation in 1804. Beginning with an arresting close-up perspective of Burr's dueling pistol on the front cover, the illustrations capture attention and convey details of the topic. The characters' expressive faces add emotion to the facts. Rendered in watercolor and gouache with pen-and-ink accents, the pictures are realistic, but not in a photographic sense. Incorporating primary sources in a dramatic style, Duel! presents a gripping view of men revered by history but not really known.--Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA

[Page 112]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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