Tag Archives: Aaron Burr

Autumn Leaves

It’s fall, the publishing industry is back in full swing, and that means there are plenty of great new books to choose from.  Let’s see. . .

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the book launch for American Emperor: Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America, by my  colleague David O. Stewart. Stewart views Burr’s tale as both an adventure story and a political/legal thriller, and why not? Imagine a novel in which a sitting Vice President is charged for murder in two states, plans an elaborate military coup to overthrow the U.S. government (and have himself installed as the head of the new upstart government installed in its place), is indicted for treason, and is put on trial — and acquitted! — before the Chief Justice of the United States. A tale too unbelievable to be true? You bet — and yet it is.  Stewart’s book is available now—and getting spectacular reviews—so go get it (and look for a cameo appearance by Washington Irving, who made sure he had a good seat in the courthouse every day of Burr’s trial in Richmond).

The book currently sitting on my nightstand is Walter Issacson’s biography Steve Jobs, which is already kicking ass and taking names on numerous bestseller lists. Those of us who were keeping tabs on Issacson’s book for the past year (and who rolled our eyes when it was rumored, probably falsely, that the book was going to called either The Book of Jobs or iJobs) watched with interest as it was updated and revised after the manuscript was already completed to reflect Jobs’s resignation from Apple due to health reasons — and then revised again immediately following his death. That gives Issacson’s book the wonderful weight of immediacy—though it’s not like most us weren’t chomping at the bit to get our hands on this one anyway.

Coming up next week is the long-awaited And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life by my pal (and fellow BIO member) Charles J. Shields, who pulls back the curtain on the enigmatic writer whose Slaughterhouse Five has been picked up by countless high school students who thought they were reading a horror novel.  Ahem.

I’m anxious to get my mitts on this one as well, though I’ll admit to having some inside information: namely, I know how hard Shields worked not only on the book itself, but on getting Vonnegut to allow him to write the story in the first place.  You can read that story and more  over on Shields’ way-cool blog  Writing Kurt Vonnegut, where you’ll learn all about his adventures as Vonnegut’s biographer — as well as beer, kids’ TV, and writing in general. Go. Now.

Over the past decade or so, I’ve largely given up fiction—but I’m still a sucker for Stephen King (yeah, guh head, make the face!) and I’ve gotta admit to being psyched for his newest, the massive, 960-page 11/22/63: A Novel. I had to fling aside the review in today’s Washington Post, which seemed too eager to commit the major foul of Giving Too Much Away.

And finally, I just read this afternoon that the fourth — but not yet final! — book in Robert A.  Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson comes out next May.

What are you looking forward to reading this fall? You don’t have to post it here, just talk amongst yuhselves.

Cold Hands, Good Company

It’s been a cold and windy week here in Maryland — made even colder by the little tease of Spring weather we’ve had over the past few weeks, where you can walk the dog, run to the store, or get the mail without needing your coat.  This week, though, just running from the house to the car makes your cheeks sting and your fingertips burn.  Each evening I build a fire in the living room fireplace and press my nose against the front window, staring at the dead flowerbeds and counting the weeks until I can go out and start playing in the mud again.

The crafty Aaron Burr.

The crafty Aaron Burr.

Meanwhile, I’m having lunch today with David O. Stewart, whose book The Summer of 1787 made the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention read like a great suspense novel.  David’s presently hard at work on a book about Aaron Burr and the comedy of errors that was the Burr Conspiracy, and he’s being either kind enough or crazy enough to ask me to blather on at length about Washington Irving and his relationship with Burr, and Irving’s observations as a semi-official correspondent at Burr’s trial in 1807.  Plus, David’s just plain good company, so it’s pretty much a double bonus for me.

Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that David’s latest book, Impeached: The Trial of President Andrew Johnson and the Fight for Lincoln’s Legacy hits bookstores on May 12.  You can advance order a copy here.