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Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,197 Ratings  ·  180 Reviews
This definitive biography of the revolutionary era villain overturns every myth and image we have of him

The narrative of America's founding is filled with godlike geniuses Franklin, Washington, Adams, Jefferson versus the villainous Aaron Burr. Generations have been told Burr was a betrayer of Hamilton, of his country, of those who had nobler ideas. All untrue. He did no
Hardcover, 540 pages
Published May 10th 2007 by Viking Adult (first published January 1st 2007)
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A.J. Howard
Nancy Isenberg has a valid argument that Aaron Burr has been grossly misjudged by history. However, her restoration is tainted by her devotion to the man. Isenberg's Burr is a brilliant, progressive, selfless hero who deserves a spot on the pantheon of America's founders. His enemies were small, vainglorious, hypocrites who only served their own interest. She attacks other writers, such as Ron Chernow, for upholding the standard story. Isenberg may have a point, but I think the truth lies somewh ...more
Oct 31, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spent a lot of this wanting to give Nancy Isenberg a hug. It's okay, Nancy, I would say to her. It's okay. I know all those people who wrote all those other books said mean things about Aaron Burr. I know. It's okay. But look! You have this opportunity here to tell me all about him in clear and precise language! And sometimes you totally are accomplishing that, and sometimes you are being awfully reactionary and shadowboxery. I did not write the lousy things about Aaron Burr, after all. I actual ...more
Tom Meyer
Sep 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
This was a very irritating biography.

To her credit, Isenberg is less credulous than other Burr biographers and generally brings a healthy level of skepticism to some of the more fantastic claims made about him. Her discussions of Burr's marriage and parenting of the younger Theodosia are also good.

Isenberg is significantly less successful in her treatment of Burr's politics. Though her description of Burr's political niche is excellent, her attempt to portray him as politically principled comple
Carl Rollyson
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"It is time to start over," contends Nancy Isenberg in her iconoclastic "Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr." Burr is, of course, infamous for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel. But historians have also branded Burr a Machiavellian villain who schemed to deny Thomas Jefferson the presidency and most likely committed treason, even though he escaped conviction.

Ms. Isenberg faults historians and biographers for not examining Burr's papers — although many were lost, thus obscuring the man, sh
David Eppenstein
In the course of my readings of the early history of our country the name of Aaron Burr has popped up several times. I admit that prior to reading this book I didn't know much about this man other than what most others knew. I knew that he almost stole the presidency from Jefferson in 1800 and that he killed Hamilton in a duel. I believed, from my reading, that he had been something of a vain political opportunist and a scoundrel. I recently ran across his name again and decided that I had to kn ...more
May 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Yes, Aaron Burr was scheming a lot to invade Mexico and Florida, but the author makes the point that there was a lot of that going around. During Polk's presidency we did end up annexing Mexico. And Andrew Jackson went into Florida, creating the crisis that allowed us to buy it. Burr may have been just as interested in claiming Mexico or Florida for the US as setting up a new Republic. But there was no truth to the charge that he also was going to invade Washington and take over the US governmen ...more
Mark Desrosiers
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, history
One of the most interesting -- and overlooked -- aspects of Aaron Burr's life is his deep and abiding friendship with philosopher Jeremy Bentham -- an intellectual kinship that led to Burr lodging in Bentham's London residence, the "Bird-Cage", after Burr's public disgrace and legal exoneration in 1807. Hell, Burr even crawled through Bentham's attic to retrieve and read some manuscripts, such was his interest in the utilitarian's work and thought.

Burr's lodging with Bentham is a perfect window
Sep 05, 2013 rated it liked it
How you approach a biography of one of the truly mysterious figures of America's Founding Era?

Well, if you're Nancy Isenberg, you make it clear to the reader in the Introduction that you are the first PROFESSIONAL historian to write a biography of Aaron Burr and that everything you've read about him is WRONG. How do we know this? Because this book was written by a PROFESSIONAL historian. And being written by a PROFESSIONAL historian, you know what's you're about to read is PROFESSIONALLY writte
David Longo
Mar 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
Only about one year ago I logged onto Goodreads. So occasionally I go back and write a review of something I read many years earlier. This is the case with "Fallen Founder" by Nancy Isenberg.

Overall, I did not enjoy this book. I found Isenberg's take on Aaron Burr having been misjudged by historians rather incredulous. I have read countless books on the Revolutionary Era, the Founding Fathers, the duel between Burr and Hamilton, three separate biographies on the man who died as a result of said
Andrew Murch
Mar 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
Aaron Burr is often seen as the villain of the founding generation. Most people don't realize that the man who killed fellow founder Alexander Hamilton in a duel was also the grandson of famed preacher Jonathan Edwards, as well as the 3rd Vice President of the United States. If things fell a little differently in the election of 1800, Burr's name would have forever been cemented among the legacy of the founding generation of Presidents.

Isenberg seeks to rescue Burr's reputation, laying out a ca
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Nancy Isenberg is the author of New York Times bestseller White Trash, and Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr, which was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize in Biography and won the Oklahoma Book Award for best book in Nonfiction. She is the coauthor, with Andrew Burstein, of Madison and Jefferson. She is the T. Harry Williams Professor of American History at LSU, and writes regularly for S ...more
More about Nancy Isenberg...
“What separates history from myth is that history takes in the whole picture, whereas myth averts our eyes from the truth when it turns men into heroes and gods.” 2 likes
“The main thrust of Burr’s argument was that citizenship came from consent. Drawing on his favorite writer, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Burr defended the basic premise of the social contract: citizens were not born, but made, through their participation in civil society. Gallatin” 0 likes
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