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Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History

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The most famous duel in American history dramatized by leading nonfiction picture book illustrator, Don Brown.

Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton were both fierce patriots during the Revolutionary War, but the politics of the young United States of America put them in constant conflict. Their extraordinary story of bitter fighting and resentment culminates in their famous duel. For young patriots who may not yet know the shocking and tragic story, Aaron and Alexander captures the spirit of these two great men who so valiantly served their country and ultimately allowed their pride and ego to cause their demise.

32 pages, Hardcover

First published October 13, 2015

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About the author

Don Brown

20 books126 followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Don Brown is the award-winning author and illustrator of many picture book biographies. He has been widely praised for his resonant storytelling and his delicate watercolor paintings that evoke the excitement, humor, pain, and joy of lives lived with passion. School Library Journal has called him "a current pacesetter who has put the finishing touches on the standards for storyographies." He lives in New York with his family.

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5 stars
133 (18%)
4 stars
316 (43%)
3 stars
234 (32%)
2 stars
40 (5%)
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4 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 158 reviews
Profile Image for Tina.
1,021 reviews29 followers
May 15, 2016
Sure Aaron Burr, the world was wide enough for you both, but now you and Hamilton are both Broadway legends, not too shabby.
Profile Image for Amy!.
2,261 reviews30 followers
December 30, 2015
This is definitely one for the older readers. The text of the book itself is simple enough, but there's a lot of it, so it wouldn't hold a younger kiddo's attention. I really like the illustrations. They're pretty simple, and Brown tries to highlight the similarities between Burr & Hamilton's lives in text & image.

The author's note & bibliography leaves a little to be desired, though. I just don't know that it would be super accessible for 4th-6th graders who might read this, and the bibliography features the titles the author clearly used while researching this (including Chernow's Alexander Hamilton!), instead of suggested "Further Reading" for kids interested in learning more.

It's been awhile since I've read it, so I'm just going off memory here, but I'm pretty sure I liked Duel!: Burr and Hamilton's Deadly War of Words better than this one. But I've got it on hold at the library, so I'll report back.
Profile Image for Mary.
2,712 reviews11 followers
December 28, 2015
An attractive dual biography of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. With well-paced storytelling and pen and ink illustrations, Brown gives a simplified introduction to both men and their complicated relationship. Brown is evenhanded in his description of Burr and Hamilton’s feud and allows readers to come to their own conclusions. However in his author’s note, he weighs in on the controversy and adds further insight to the conflict between the two founding fathers. A compelling picture book that will be especially appreciated by young readers who enjoy American history. This will pair well with Duel by Dennis Brindell Fradin.
Profile Image for Cara.
2,280 reviews41 followers
November 2, 2015
This was an interesting non-fiction picture book about Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. I knew of their duel, but I didn't really know the backstory, or how much of a role either one played in history. I did find it interesting that there was a sympathetic spin where Burr was concerned. I have never read a book where he wasn't villainized for his role in the duel.

The illustrations really add a lot to the story.
Profile Image for Katt Hansen.
3,510 reviews96 followers
January 21, 2018
I have seen some strange picture books over the last several years, but this one takes the cake. I never expected to see a picture book detailing the famous duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. It seems a strange subject matter in a book aimed for young children.

This is NOT the story you want to pick up to read to your toddler on a Sunday afternoon.

On the other hand, it's an interesting addition to a history curriculum for an older child. The parallels between the lives of the two characters gives a unique point of view to the story, as does the author's siding with Aaron Burr at the end. This is not exactly an impartial tale, which makes it somewhat flawed to be used as history, but can also be used as a learning tool to show your child that history can have very different interpretations depending on the narrator.

I put off doing a review on this book for a while, but still am not sure how I feel about it. Between the styling and this topic, I'm not sure that the pros outweigh the cons. I wouldn't go out of my way to find this book, but if your library has it, it might be an good addition to your history lesson. I wouldn't spend the money on it myself though, and really don't like the somewhat biased view of the author. So overall the best I can do is three stars for this one.
Profile Image for Jillian.
2,524 reviews24 followers
November 18, 2015
A well-illustrated, well-laid-out, and very informative version of the story of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. (Tell me, Goodreads friends - can any of us of a certain age think of this duel without remembering the milk commercial??)

I liked the presentation of Burr and Hamilton's parallel stories, and the emphasis on what they had in common as well as their differences. It gives a great opportunity to open discussion about finding common ground with people we don't like, as well as thinking about how things would be different for us right now if something different had happened in the past.
Profile Image for Melki.
6,036 reviews2,386 followers
April 4, 2016
They had so much in common . . .

Both men were smart and well-read. Both were brave and proved their mettle on Revolutionary War battlefields. Each acted as wartime aides for George Washington . . .

And yet, they ended up fighting the most famous duel in American history.


Brown presents a fascinating account of how it all went down. Great for older children and history buffs.
5,870 reviews130 followers
May 7, 2021
Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History is a children's picture book written and illustrated by Don Brown. The peculiar enmity between founding fathers Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton culminated in an infamous duel.

Aaron Burr Jr. was an American politician and lawyer. He served as the third vice president of the United States during President Thomas Jefferson's first term from 1801–1805. Alexander Hamilton was an American statesman, politician, legal scholar, military commander, lawyer, banker, and economist and was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

Brown's text is rather simplistic, straightforward, and informational. In a compact yet conversational narrative, Brown draws multiple parallels between statesmen Burr and Hamilton while highlighting the pointlessness of the duel that bound them. Backmatter includes an author’s note and bibliography. Brown’s loose, minimally detailed watercolors convey the emotions that governed each man’s personality, as well as the tumult of the nascent nation.

The premise of the book is rather straightforward. Both were orphaned at a young age, diligent students, short in stature, and became lawyers in New York City. The cordiality between Burr and Hamilton ended when the two found themselves in opposing political camps as the new republic took shape.

All in all, Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History is a handsome, well-executed history for a young audience.
Profile Image for Jenny.
2,829 reviews27 followers
July 31, 2018
Side by side spreads describe Aaron Burr and Alexander Burr's childhoods, schooling, involvement in the Revolutionary War and their growing disdain for one another. The illustrations accompanying the text add to the emotion and tension. The book also includes an author's note and bibliography.
Profile Image for Brian Duffy.
18 reviews2 followers
June 22, 2018
I would use this book to teach American History. The fiction twin text I chose for this book is "Alexander Hamilton #2: Little Lion (The Treasure Chest) by Ann Hood, 2012. This fictional story actually goes into greater detail about Alexander Hamilton's life and would make Aaron and Alexander more meaningful.
Profile Image for Jody Ruff.
27 reviews
February 12, 2018
The History on Aaron and Alexander and how they grew up. Both their families died because of fevers.
They moved around many times with many life changes. This book helps children learn about the History of the men In the United States during and after the Revolutionary War.
Profile Image for Samantha.
4,985 reviews58 followers
November 28, 2015
A nice introduction to the tumultuous relationship between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, ending in their famous (deadly) duel.

I really liked the organization of information here. Each two page spread explained what Burr and Hamilton were doing at the same point in time and really helped readers to compare their lives, their opportunities, and the facts of life that made them into the men they became. The blame isn't placed squarely on Burr as the villain, though that is the way history often remembers him.

The author's note is well worth the read and explains the author's approach to this project.

Highly recommended history reading for grades 4-6+.

Profile Image for AMY.
2,474 reviews
May 6, 2017
Great non-fiction informational book about two very colorful characters in America's early days. I learned a lot . Good watercolor illustrations. Nice format with compare and contrast between the two men. This book made me want to learn more about Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. I think it could teach us all about human nature and how you can have all the education, training, opportunity and determination, but if you cannot get along with people things can get out of hand and result in tragedy. Be sure to read the great information at the end in the "author's note" section. Highly recommended for grades 4-5.
Profile Image for Trina.
280 reviews
July 11, 2016
My kids and I have been listening a lot to the musical Hamilton these days. In an effort to better understand the musical, I picked up this book. Honestly, I am not sure that I would have picked up this book if I wasn't a little obsessed with Hamilton right now. But there is SO much that I didn't know about this time period, and it is fascinating. After my ten-year-old son read this book he exclaimed, "Wow! This is really interesting!" I agreed. As a teacher, I think that this could be a great book to help kids envision how to tell two different stories in one book.
Profile Image for Holly Mueller.
2,231 reviews
January 20, 2016
This is a fascinating compare/contrast biography of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. I didn't know a lot of the background of the two men before reading this picture book. Kids will be fascinated (and probably horrified) by the somewhat common practice of dueling to settle disputes if they haven't heard of it before. Great mentor text for our Common Core standard on text structures.
Profile Image for Kirst.
40 reviews
October 13, 2016
Biographical Title #2:

I really liked this one. It had interesting pictures that heightened the text well. The text was short, encompassing, and child-friendly. It includes real quotes from Aaron and Alexander, and it would be great for any child interested in Hamilton/Burr. It could also be used to show compare and contrast.
June 21, 2017
Nonfiction Book: Aaron and Alexander
Content area: American History/Social Studies (probably around third or fourth grade)
Twin Text: Alexander Hamilton: the Little Lion
Crossover to Content: I would teach this with the American revolution, but maybe do it as an activity to garner excitement for the topic before diving in, because Aaron and Alexander covers most of the Revolutionary War within its pages as a quick overview, and The Little Lion leads right up to it. I think that the order of things would go as follows: I would read Aaron and Alexander to introduce the topic, then read The Little Lion throughout the unit when we had time, chapter by chapter.
Summary and Connection between texts:
The book Aaron and Alexander was listed under the School Library Journal Best Nonfiction Books 2015. I’m pairing it here with the second book in a series that can be read out of order -- it’s called Alexander Hamilton: the Little Lion. The picture book is about the lives of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton and the parallels between them: how they were orphans, where they grew up, and what their political careers looked like. In the chapter book that we could read as a class, there is more explanation and a little embellishing on Hamilton’s childhood, and how he got to be in America.
Extension Strategy: K-W-L As tempting as it is to immediately go into a Venn diagram of the similarities and differences between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, I know that what we’re trying to get at here is a comparison between the texts, not the people (although that would work, using the fiction book to support the Hamilton side of it). However, I think that what would be better for this situation, because I’m spreading the chapter book out, is an initial K-W-L paired with an ongoing one. Students can write what they know about the revolutionary war, what they want to know about Hamilton, and then after each chapter, write what they may have learned based on the fiction (or what they suspect, given that it’s only loosely based on fact). This chart can be added to as the book goes on: after students read Aaron and Alexander, they can write what they learned, and each time they come back to it, can review what they now “K -- know.”
Profile Image for Bookbag_Betty.
176 reviews
October 4, 2019

-No Life Is Without Its Regrets.

-We all owe life a death, an inevitable death which we can meet.
But the unnecessary death that wastes life denies all consolation.

Error often is to be preferred to indecision.

I live my life as I deem appropriate and fitting; I offer no apologies, no explanations.

I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be.

If men were angels, no government would be necessary

Who talks most about freedom and equality? Is it not those who hold the bill of rights in one hand and a whip for affrighted slaves in the other?

TRAVELED TO // St, Croix, Princeton, New Jersey, New York
MET ALONG THE WAY // Alexander Hamilton & Aaron Burr
Profile Image for Kira Hollars.
30 reviews
April 17, 2022
This informational children’s picture book described the lives growing up and until death of famous American figures Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. As is revealed in the book, both men had many commonalities and in another life, they may have even been close friends had they not differed so much in political ideologies. Both men had been orphans, both were highly intelligent and sought higher education, and both men fought on the same side of the American Revolution. While these men had several similarities, their differences proved to be too much to tolerate as Aaron challenged Alexander to a duel over Alexander’s disrespect to Aaron calling him “despicable”. This book gives a generalized, kid-friendly overview of this period in American history while informing the reader of prominent figures of the time. The cartoony watercolor illustrations combined with the text make the story easily understandable and almost come to life. I think this book would be great for introducing topics around the American Revolution or in discussing famous figures from American history. My only negative note of this book is how it blatantly seems to favor on Hamilton’s side of the duel/disagreement over Burr’s side. In my opinion, history should be told almost exclusively objectively, so that no bias is accidentally taught and so students can form their own individual opinions on our nation and its’ history.
12 reviews
September 30, 2019
This book tells the story of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Aaron was born into a wealthy family and had family support, even in his hardships. Alexander was born among merchants and slaves and worked hard to study and become George Washington's right hand man. After the Revolutionary war, in which they both fought, Aaron and Alexander became lawyers in New York, where they finally met. Although they began on good terms, they soon became enemies as they joined different political parties in the beginning of American's independence. As arguments between the two men became heated, Aaron finally challenged Alexander to a duel. Alexander fatally agreed.

This book would be great for 6th-8th grade. It's definitely historical nonfiction, but the illustrations make it fun and entertaining to read. I chose this book because I think it would be really great to incorporate into a history unit on the American Revolution. It's an amusing book, but it's also easy to read and enjoyable. I would use this in a reading classroom as inspiration for students to write about the American Revolution and the independence of America.
31 reviews
May 12, 2021
I really enjoyed this book and think it is perfect for students interested in early America and the founding fathers. It is simply informational and details the famous and fatal duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. It provides lots of factual information about their lives leading up to their duel. It talks about their differences in opinions about how the new America should be led and run.
The illustrations in this book are simple, yet they still help tell the story. There is lots of information in this book and I think the illustrations help give a break in all of the information provided. They even seem a little old fashioned which helps it fit with the time period it is about.
I would recommend this book for older elementary schoolers, probably 3rd through 5th graders. I think that it is better for older readers because of all of the information in the book and how it has to do with a deadly duel. It just seems a little more mature to me and would better suit older readers.
Profile Image for JoAnne.
392 reviews
September 29, 2020
I have to up front say, we are huge Hamilton fans in my household, and my 8 year old daughter was asking for ALL the books about Alexander Hamilton, and honestly there really aren't that many. I have to give a huge kudos to this author, for taking a subject such as a duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, and breaking it down for kids in a way that they not only understand it, but also made it an interesting read! The author did a fantastic job of explaining how Burr and Hamilton were so much alike, and also including details such as their views on ships when they were younger - how they differed based on their upbringing. Burr came from a much more well-off upbringing than Hamilton did. My family thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and would definitely look for more books by this author!
91 reviews
November 5, 2017
"Aaron and Alexander" tells the stories of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton, two historically influential men whose lives differed from the very start. Highlighting not only their contrasting upbringings but also their political differences, Brown sets the stage for their most famous conflict: the infamous firearm duel that ultimately killed Hamilton.

illustrations: watercolor, by Don Brown

Incredibly factual, yet incredibly entertaining, "Aaron and Alexander" was an enjoyable read. Even as someone who is fascinated by this period of American history and has read quite a bit about Alexander Hamilton, I learned a handful of interesting facts about the figure that kept me engaged throughout the story; however, Brown's upbeat approach to history would make "Aaron and Alexander" a great choice for even less enthusiastic history students to include in discussions about Burr, Hamilton, or Revolutionary America.
Profile Image for Ann.
29 reviews
March 15, 2018
This is an informational book and it is also a biography of the lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. The book is a organized in a compare and contrast style, comparing the lives of the two men from the time they were born, until the time of Alexander's death.

The illustrations are large, bold and beautiful. They look as if they were first sketched with pencil and then painted in with watercolor paints.

This book would be good to use with grades K-5. It can be used to discuss the history, founding fathers and the revolution in the United States. It's language is simple enough to use with primary students, but its theme and concepts are mature enough to use with upper elementary students.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
28 reviews
June 7, 2017
This would be a fantastic biographical, read aloud for older elementary students who are studying the Founding Fathers and Revolutionary War. Don Brown wrote and illustrated "The Most Famous Duel In American History" with intense drawings and concrete language. I was drawn to the emotional facial expressions and side by side stories of Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. I really liked how Don Brown told their stories next to one another on the page. The reader could see what Hamilton and Burr had in common(going to college, freezing at Army's winter camp). We were also able to see how the men grew up and what opportunities they had. Their conflict was intense and complicated, yet Don Brown provides a thorough introduction to Burr and Hamilton's relationship. The men had a great deal in common, yet came face to face in a well known duel. Included in the back of the book is an Author's Note with specifics on the duel and men. There was a great deal of content embedded in this engaging story and I feel it would be too much for many younger students. I absolutely adore the Hamilton Broadway soundtrack and story, and this book was a fantastic connection to the history!
Profile Image for Mary Shafer.
19 reviews1 follower
August 15, 2017
This book is about Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. They were alike as well as different in many ways. They both grew up orphans. They went to college and became lawyers. They were into politics. They were on different sides of politics. Aaron talked aloud about his views and Alexander wrote about his views. Alexander kept writing bad things about Aaron which he ignored most of them. However it got to a point that Aaron couldn't take it any more. Aaron challenged Alexander to a duel. Read the book to find out what happens.
75 reviews1 follower
December 5, 2017
Brown, D. (2015) Aaron and Alexander: The most famous duel in American history. New York: Roaring Brook Press.

This is a great way to explain to kids about this famous duel between two people, and how it ended badly for both of them. Not only does it tell about history, but it explains that two people can be very different and they could still be friends, but hurting each other instead just ends badly for both parties.
Profile Image for Kelley Mitchell.
472 reviews3 followers
May 15, 2019
Such an exciting story, but the author's reliance on using quotations from contemporary sources robbed the story of it's suspense and vinegar. The language of 200 years ago seems formal and doesn't carry the heat of anger that it would have if using modern language. I'm pretty sure a 9 year old reading this wouldn't get the anger and hatred these men had for each other.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 158 reviews

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