Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Treason

My goal is to read 100 books by the end of 2013.  I just finished book 50.

Treason by David Nevin

Summary (via Goodreads):
America has entered her most trying time.  Three powerful men collide in a tale of treason that put the very future of the nation and its democracy at stake.
Aaron Burr shatters the trust he enjoys from the American people by attempting to steal the presidency from under Jefferson's nose.  Stripped of power, Burr kills Alexander Hamilton in a raging duel and flees.
General James Wilkinson, secretly on the Spanish payroll as Agent #13, fuels Burr's unquenchable ambition and conceives a plot to steal the entire Louisiana Territory from Jefferson.
And James Madison, the unlikely hero, who uses his icy nerves and powerful intellect to try and hold a fledgling nation together.
Treason is the stirring story of historical mystery and power politics in the days when our nation was young and vulnerable.  A time of plot and counterplot, intrigue and greed, and the story of the figures of American history as they really were.

My Opinion:
When historical fiction is done well, it's one of my favorite genres.  I enjoy it the most when the author takes an event/era that I have basic knowledge about and expands on it, usually through the viewpoint of a lesser known or completely forgotten historical figure.
This book definitely fit into that category.  Although I was familiar with the names of Aaron Burr and James Madison, I didn't know how involved they were in U.S. expansion.  Fun fact:  Aaron Burr was the sitting vice-president when he killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel and he still presided over the Senate while facing murder charges in New Jersey...who knew?
The author did a great job building tension and maintaining interest even though the reader knows the outcome before starting (if the fact that Burr was unsuccessful in his attempt to start a new country is a spoiler for you, please consult a map), which is another characteristic of well written historical fiction.
This book reminded me that our founding fathers were human - they weren't always good and their instincts weren't always correct but they took many risks to keep their new country together at a very perilous time.  It was also interesting to consider how a few shifts could have had dramatic results (for example, Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson technically tied in the 1800 presidential election, a loophole that was closed for future elections; how different would our country look if Burr had become president and Jefferson vice president?).
It was a slow start but picked up after a few chapters.  Recommended if you like historical fiction and have an interest in U.S. history.  

Quote from the Book:
"[She] marveled at how often great events and national movements and crucial decisions turned on the same human emotions that children in a nursery will exhibit - rage, fear, greed, hunger..."


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