We are a Broadway loving household. This year we taped the Tony’s and my girls watched them repeatedly. So there was no way of getting around the amazing momentum of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s outstanding, award-winning show, Hamilton. But while they understand the popularity of the show and that it is partly because of the way it turned what we expect of theater on its head, they definitely don’t understand the story. So when I heard about the book Aaron and Alexander, by Don Brown, I knew that I had to get a copy.
This outstanding non-fiction picture book shows the parallels between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton while highlighting the fact that they wound up being the worst of enemies. Their early lives were very different – a clear case of privilege versus poverty – but both boys were incredibly intelligent and when the American Revolution began, they both staked their lives on independence.
The book is set up in an intriguing way constantly showcasing where each man was at the same point in their life. From their formative years to the fact that both were orphaned, their roles in the Revolutionary War and the years following, and finally how they found themselves in opposing political camps fighting each other.
During the war, allegiances were started that would shape their political careers. Aaron led troops and was worn out by army life. Alexander, on the other hand, used his ambition to become General Washington’s aide.
Years later, they both had political aspirations. Aaron was a people person going out and working the crowds while Alexander used written words to get his message out there and cut down his political opponents. The conflict escalated when Alexander Hamilton was the driving force behind making sure that Thomas Jefferson won the presidency in 1800 rather than Aaron Burr. Four years later, the final straw was reached and Aaron challenge Alexander to a dual (a common occurrence in that time.).
This is a marvelous look at an interesting part of American history and a great way to talk about the current Hamilton craze. It is hard to find history books that really engage a child who is old enough to understand the content, but this book does an outstanding job of it. Until recently, most people would recognize Alexander Hamilton’s name and know little to nothing about Aaron Burr. Don Brown did an excellent job of bringing this moment of history into full color for the younger generation.
I haven’t been great about participating in the non-fiction picture book challenge hosted by Alyson Beecher of Kid Lit Frenzy, but I do try. If you haven’t already checked out her site and the rest of the outstanding blogs that link up, I highly recommend it. Her post today has a number of new releases that I want to get my hands on. Happy reading!