These four stories casting some of America’s Founding Fathers in less than a flattering light reveal that political partisanship and mudslinging have been a nasty reality since the nation’s founding.
The first story, about George Washington and George III, seems ill-suited to cast as a feud since neither personally knew the other, and the other conflicts are between family and friends. Benjamin Franklin refused to reconcile with his Loyalist son, William, even after the American Revolution. The consummate contrarian Alexander Hamilton feuded with many, most famously with Aaron Burr, who left Hamilton dead in a duel. Political differences drove John Adams and Thomas Jefferson apart for many years before they reconciled late in life. Quirk’s recounting of these episodes from American history breaks no new ground beyond bundling the stories together. Though the telling is smooth, aside from the chapter on the two Franklins, there is little new about the content. Rosalyn Schanzer’s George vs. George (2004), Don Brown’s Aaron and Alexander (2015), and Suzanne Tripp Jurmain’s Worst of Friends (illustrated by Larry Day, 2011) cover the other three “feuds” in lively picture books next to which this offering feels both superfluous and a little stodgy, despite Baddeley’s playful spot illustrations.
For unflattering portraits of these well-known Founding Fathers, there are plenty of other places to look. (source notes, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 8-12)