Paul Collins – Duel With the Devil (2013)

duelwiththedevilI picked up this book thinking it would be about the infamous Hamilton/Burr duel and the culture of dueling in the early United States. Instead it was about the murder of a young Quaker woman and how Burr and Hamilton had contact with one another during this case.

I was rather disappointed, and I don’t know if it was just that I was expecting something else, or if the book itself wasn’t all that good. It was a bit scattered and I didn’t really understand the argument. The author introduces character upon character involved in this murder of Elma Sand. From my reading however, I didn’t really get the significance of this murder and why it was important in the relationship between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. The two were intimately part of the trial yes, but I didn’t see why it mattered all the much. Collin’s also did not say a great deal about this murder in relation of American society, or even Philadelphia at the time. It would have been nice if there had been some bigger picture things going on.

The duel itself only took up a sentence of this entire book, and for that reason I was disappointed. It’s not a bad book, Collins did his research and he makes some interesting points. I just couldn’t figure out what his argument was, and the book did not stand out for me.

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