Editor’s Note: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.
We are lucky enough in this day and age to have a plethora of writers with an interest in American history: Edward Rutherfurd, David McCullough, and Erik Larson are great examples. In Duel with the Devil: The True Story of How Alexander Hamilton & Aaron Burr Teamed Up to Take on America’s First Sensational Murder Mystery, Paul Collins attempts to engage the reader just as these authors can. But unfortunately, he falls short.
It’s not that Paul Collins doesn’t have a great story. And it’s not that he’s a bad writer, obviously. He had success with The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars, he’s an English professor, and he is a frequent NPR guest. I think the problem with Duel with the Devil is it’s ambition; the book is trying to do way too much. On one hand, it’s a story of the unexpected partnership between two very different, incongruous Founding Fathers, one of whom eventually kills the other. It’s also the story of an unsolved murder mystery, the evolution of Aaron Burr’s bank, and the beginnings of our country. It’s a lot of ground to cover in just 300-ish pages. The cast of characters is long, and, from the get-go, it’s difficult to note whether or not a personality is going to stick around for the length of the story.
We can all agree that the tragic death of the legendary Robin Williams has placed the entire country, if not the world, in a mild depression. The unexpected sadness that laid in his heart and mind will never be reconciled with the laughter he was able to bring to so many people. So in honor of a life that gave us so much good, I present the great things making me happy this week.
The Little League World Series Begins: I have several favorite times of the year, and they mostly revolve around sports—college football season, college basketball season, the time of year when college football season and college basketball season overlap, March Madness, and the end of August, which brings us the Little League World Series. I clearly have an obsession with amateur athletics, and you can’t get more amateur than kids playing America’s greatest pastime. Double elimination play starts today, with the American teams playing in one pool, and the international teams playing in another. The winner of each pool will play each other on August 24th. This is the event that has brought us countless stars, including my personal favorite, Todd Fraizer. It’s amazing. Get into it.
Audrey, just casually getting coffee, on your right.
Let me start with this: I’m sorry. I owe you all so much more than what I’ve given. But discovered recovering from a concussion is more than just a week of naps. And my brain hasn’t been ready to really give you quality recaps you deserve. So like A, I’m back.
Last week the closing credits foreshadowed a major event in Rosewood: Aria’s mom and that guy who owns (?) The Brew are having an engagement party. (Zach owns The Brew, right?) The invitation promises us a return of a parent to Rosewood, but fear not, faithful reader. It did not do a bit of good.
So let’s recap where everyone is at:
It came to my attention last night that the incomparable Ma$e, the man who taught Ke$ha how to put a $ in her name, was poised for another comeback. I love Mase, so this was, quite literally, music to my ears. But it got me wondering about those other groups I oh so loved when I was nothing but a tween in a Starter jacket listening to the Top 9 at 9 on K104. Do they still air that? Yes, they do.
So I made up my Dream Team list of those bands I need to be famous again, because, well, I miss them. I also think it would be cool if they all got together and made some kind of Live Aid-like Christmas song (this will never happen; even I don’t really have my hopes up). I give you my list below, and I apologize in advance for any graphic content. If I could listen to it at 12, you can listen to it now. Blame my parents.
A day late, but not a dollar short.
I don’t really know where I’m going with that except that I am a day late with this post, and I apologize. The Fourth of July got the better of me, and it took an entire extra day to recuperate. I even took off from work. It was serious.
This is the week me and my family leave for Scotland, and I couldn’t be more excited! I could probably write this entire blog post about our trip, but I’ll refrain until it’s actually here, or until we come back and I actually have stories to tell. Instead, I bring you this week’s happy things, courtesy of Fourth of July Weekend (and one elephant):
“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage.” - Theodore Roosevelt
So Audrey Marks is still concussed, but she promises she’ll begin recapping this damn show next week. In the interim, I’m going to attempt to tell you what happened last night on Pretty Little Liars, but I have to warn you, I went to a bar after work to watch the second half of the US v. Belgium match. It was 90 degrees in the place, I only had yogurt for lunch, and I had a glass of wine. By the end of the game I had no idea where I was (heat poisoning is real). My only reference points for last nights PLL episode are mine and Audrey’s incoherent text messages. So bear with me.
Last night’s show opened with Hanna’s new hair (same blonde, new black streaks) and Aria’s bowler hat/jumper combo. Bad looks were had by all. Also, Spencer is, for reasons unbeknownst to us all, wearing a terrible wig. None of this moves the plot forward. I just felt like it needed to be pointed out.
When my cousins and I were little, our grandpa or one of our parents would shuttle us over to Great Gun, the beach at the end of Fire Island, N.Y., or to the very tip of Westhampton Beach on the other side of the Moriches Inlet. We would drop anchor in a cove on the bay side of the dunes and either stay there and wade in the water or climb the white sand dunes to the ocean side and play wiffle ball. For me, these trips always ended in third degree burns. One time I ripped the bottom of my foot open on a rusty boardwalk nail. I have nothing but good memories from these trips.