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vagansmom

The Dust Bunny Collection

33 posts in this topic

Yes, exactly. I can remember how refreshing it was to read about the period in an account that wasn't cloaked in reverence.

It is his best historical novel, although I am partial to "Julian" out of an attachment to the subject matter.

Jefferson was, for a long time, the FF poster boy, but he's getting his comeuppance in a series of Federalist biographies.

Our times are unsympathetic to Jefferson. (Further developments in the Sally Hemings matter didn't help, either.) But he'll be back.

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No amount of self possession, attention to duty, thoughtful attentions as a host etc really ameliorates the astounding willingness of a father of seven to be provoked into a duel that could easily have been avoided.  There’s a bit more armchair psychoanlysis than I’m generally comfortable with as well.

:) I visited the recent Hamilton exhibition at the New-York Historical Society (now touring the country). It was fascinating for many reasons, including the display of the two pistols, one of which changed American history, but no one knows which one.

Richard Brookhiser, author of a brief bio of Hamilton (I've read neither his nor Chernow's [the Chernow now having become home to a colony of dust bunnies]) and curator of the exhibition, participated in a panel at N-YHS. He speculated why Hamilton agreed to the duel: if he lost, he'd go out in a blaze of glory, but better, it would end Burr's public career.

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Another computer advice to b1: If you're like me, and use "fast reply" nearly every time (such as right this moment :D , you still can underline by clicking on "More Options' underneath your fast reply window. From there, you can follow carbro's advice.

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He speculated why Hamilton agreed to the duel: if he lost, he'd go out in a blaze of glory, but better, it would end Burr's public career.

Hmmm … He may have ended Burr’s political career, but seems to have guaranteed Burr’s immortality instead. If Burr hadn’t shot Hamilton he might have spent the rest of his days as a has-been slugging it out in Albany politics, ending up as a trivia question (“Who was Vice President during Thomas Jefferson’s first administration?’’) rather than the subject of Gore Vidal’s best novel (IMO) and the best Got Milk ad ever! It seems almost impossible to mention Alexander Hamilton without eventually invoking Aaron Burr. Moral: don’t handcuff yourself to the person you most loathe when you dive off into eternity.

dirac: At your suggestion, I’m moving Cryptonomicon up in the rotation! I did enjoy what I'd gotten through, but lost momentum when I couldn’t fit it into my carry-on during my last trip.

:shake: Now I know how to underline!

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It’s off topic, but I think it unlikely that Burr would have tried again in New York. His defeat in the gubernatorial race was conclusive, and he was under attack from all sides. I suspect it was depression and anger over his circumstances that caused Burr to take greater umbrage at Hamilton than was usual for him. He could have gone West and returned as a senator from one of the new states, but he had bigger fish to fry, or so he thought. ‘A man of much wit, and very little judgment.’ I don’t know if that statement applied truly to Thomas Seymour, but it was certainly true of Burr.

I’m glad to hear the Historical Society’s exhibition is a good one. Its subtitle, “The Man Who Made Modern America,” seemed ahistorical and inflated to me, and not a good omen.

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I’m glad to hear the Historical Society’s exhibition is a good one.  Its subtitle, “The Man Who Made Modern America,”  seemed ahistorical and inflated to me, and not a good omen.

The point of the title was that Hamilton basically estabished the whole system of banking and finance that we now have (in other words, American capitalism), and he, better than any of his well known contemporaries, understood that the future of the new nation was urban and industrial, not rural and agricultural.

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I’m glad to hear the Historical Society’s exhibition is a good one.  Its subtitle, “The Man Who Made Modern America,”  seemed ahistorical and inflated to me, and not a good omen.

The point of the title was that Hamilton basically estabished the whole system of banking and finance that we now have (in other words, American capitalism), and he, better than any of his well known contemporaries, understood that the future of the new nation was urban and industrial, not rural and agricultural.

To put this in context, while I don't think that Hamilton foresaw the Industrial Revolution, he did understand the necessity of a diverse economy, with manufacturing as a mitigation against the vicissitudes of a farm and small merchant economy, as well as the means to reduce dependence on England, which was still considerable after the Revolution.

Given the banking and market system he set up, and his understanding of debt financing, I don't think the subtitle is an exaggeration, regardless of how we feel about the current state of American capitalism.

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Well.....it wouldn’t be an exaggeration, so much as ahistorical and imprecise and therefore misleading -- depending, of course, on how it’s worked out and explained in the exhibition. The contrast between Hamilton’s view of America’s future and Jefferson’s more pastoral one has been much discussed and has relevance to us today, but not that literally. If the exhibition does declare flatly that Hamilton created the "system we now have" -- that is certainly debatable, to put it mildly......

At your suggestion, I’m moving Cryptonomicon up in the rotation! I did enjoy what I'd gotten through, but lost momentum when I couldn’t fit it into my carry-on during my last trip.

Good luck. I don't think you'll be sorry, but you never know. The thing with Stephenson is that you have to enjoy the digressions and the exposition as much as the plot. It's okay to skip a bit, but there are risks involved in that you might miss something crucial. Please report back!

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