This fast-paced, meticulously researched novel dramatizes lesser-known episodes of American history to reveal the "real" Alexander Hamilton who, despite his famed intellect, was blind to his fatal flaw.
For two centuries historians have theorized that Hamilton was either suicidal or hypersensitive about honor when he accepted Aaron Burr's challenge, but neither theory squares with Hamilton's character. Not only had he never fought a duel, but Burr was held in such low esteem by 1804, Hamilton could easily have ignored him. Why, then, did he go?
The novel opens in 1801 after Hamilton has completed his herculean work as a soldier, Treasury secretary and Federalist leader. Thomas Jefferson and the Republicans are in power. Hamilton's 19-year-old son Philip is mortally wounded in a duel, and he dies in his parents' arms, causing his sister a permanent psychotic break. Hamilton retires from politics to focus on his family.
Two years later, Jefferson buys the Louisiana Territory. Irate New England Federalists plot to secede from the union and secretly pledge to support Burr for governor if he will bring New York into their Northern Confederacy. Hamilton believes he alone can save the union, so he ignores his wife's warnings, helps defeat Burr and re-emerges as the Federalist leader and possible presidential candidate in '08. Thoroughly discredited, outraged and broke, Burr thinks a duel will restore his political stature, so he challenges Hamilton on the flimsiest of pretexts. With nothing to gain and everything to lose, Hamilton accepts. On the surface, his decision makes no sense, but author Jack Casey believes a deep emotional wound compelled Hamilton to attend the duel, and he wrote Hamilton's Choice to prove it.
After graduating cum laude from Yale ('72, exceptional distinction in English literature), Casey followed his love of American history to write historical novels with strong political themes. He was so inspired researching Hamilton's life in 1982 that he embarked on a career in law and politics in Albany, NY. For three decades he watched politicians ruin their lives as unbridled ego brought down leaders like Spitzer, Silver, Skelos and Schneiderman. Hamilton's Choice, his best work by far, opens with the inciting incident of Philip's death, and proceeds through progressively more intense turning points to a shattering climax three years later. Fans of Ron Chernow's Hamilton biography, Linn-Manuel Miranda's musical or good historical fiction will truly enjoy this book.