Anyone who writes about Aaron Burr — like me, for example, in American Emperor – has to wrestle with the shadow of Gore Vidal. Vidal rendered Burr as a marvelous three-dimensional character in his rollicking historical novel with the admirably simple title, Burr.
I read Vidal’s Burr when it came out in 1973 and ate it up. It was funny, it was intriguing, and its history was really quite good. When I set out on my own efforts to write about Aaron Burr, I decided not to re-read the Vidal book; I was afraid that Vidal’s imaginative depiction of Burr would hijack my own imagination, and I would be left to produce a pale imitation of Vidal’s. If you’ve already read mine, go ahead and read his. (But not before mine!)