“The astonishing day began when Colonel Burr came out of his office and asked me to accompany him to the City Hotel where he was to meet a friend. As usual, he was mysterious. He makes even a trip to the barber seem like a plot to overthrow the state.”
Narrated by his biographer, this work of fiction is a look at the life of American founding father Aaron Burr. Gore Vidal attempts to illuminate the political posturing of the day and the life of those early movers and shakers of the Washington beltway.
I love reading about American history and was eager to learn more about Burr. He came across as thoroughly unlikeable in this novel – as did just about every character mentioned. This is my second novel by Vidal (I read Lincoln many years ago), but it will probably be my last. The book is nearly 100% dialogue (internal and external), and it reminded me of an old black and white movie from the thirties, that you just can’t get into because the actors all seem to play the same character and things move much too fast. Whatever the problem, I just could not appreciate Vidal’s writing style. It’s too bad, because Burr was pretty well researched (although I must assume that the Burr/Van Buren connection was contrived as in reality it would have been impossible).
3 stars (out of 5)
Published in 1973