History writers like me (that is, those without doctorates) sometimes develop a bit of a ‘tude about academics who occasionally sneer at our efforts. An Ivy League type wrote of my first book (and I paraphrase), “I don’t know why they publish books like this.”
Because people like to read them!
In any event, a distinguished historian at the University of Virginia, Peter Onuf, has just published a very generous review of American Emperor in the Journal of American History, which helps shrink the chip on my shoulder. A couple of excerpts:
- “Burr’s great struggle with Jefferson provides the narrative thread to David O. Stewart’s compelling account of Burr’s later career.”
- Burr is a fascinating character, and questions of character have dominated the literature on him from his time to our own. Stewart is remarkably successful in avoiding this interpretative trap.”
- “Had all the evidence that Stewart assembles been available in Richmond [for Burr’s treason trial] and the charges been adequately framed, the legal verdict would have been clear.”
- “Stewart’s even handed verdict is that ‘Burr’s challenge strengthened the union and sharpened Jefferson’s own commitment to it.'”
I would link to the full review, but it’s behind one of those vile paywalls. So, in a gesture of reciprocity, I herewith feature one of Onuf’s noteworthy books: