Book Review: Paul Collins’ Duel with the Devil

Editor’s Note: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

download 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.

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Things That Are Making Me Happy This Week

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.

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Audrey’s Pretty Little Liars Recap: Where Have All The Good Guys Gone?

Audrey, just casually getting coffee, on your right.

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:

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