The peculiar enmity between founding fathers Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton culminated in an infamous duel.
Brown takes a broad, evenhanded, and pared-down look at the lives of Burr and Hamilton. Both were orphaned as children, both were slender, bright, and determined. After serving in the Revolutionary War, they became lawyers—even occasional colleagues—and developed political passions. They look similar in the quick strokes of Brown’s pen-and-wash illustrations: in gray coats and white cravats, their foreheads high and faces narrow. Panels and dialogue balloons create motion to match the brief, informative narrative. The irascible Hamilton frequently insulted Burr during Burr’s 1800 presidential bid against Jefferson. When, in 1804, Burr ran for governor of New York, Hamilton struck an intolerable blow. Hamilton scowls, pen in hand, as the word “Despicable” appears in a thought balloon above his head. On the page opposite, Burr grimaces as he reads the word aloud, and it appears above his own head. This illustration is evoked at the climax, in which two hands holding pistols face off across the opening, smoke and blood-red fire spitting from the barrels, the word “BANG!” below each. The final page sums up the result for Burr, the survivor: regret and lost reputation. An author’s note for older readers adds texture; the bibliography is adult-directed.
Handsome, well-executed history for a young audience. (Informational picture book. 6-10)