The day was hot and sticky. The man in the rowboat was an impetuous hothead. His row across the choppy Hudson that morning led to a confrontation that has burned bright in the American mind for more than two hundred years. When the most torious duel in American history took place, Alexander Hamilton was 49, a former Treasury Secretary whose meteoric political rise had flamed out in the wake of a humiliating sex scandal. Vice President Aaron Burr, was just a year younger than Hamilton, at the top of a meteoric rise of his own in the nation's fledgling government. Though the duel is famous, the fascinating three-decade dance that led to it is far less kwn. Rivals Unto Death will explore that dance, vividly sketching the key episodes that led to its violent end. It will start with the preliminaries of that fateful morning in 1804, then retrace the rivalry back to the earliest days of the American Revolution, when both men, brilliant, restless, and barely twenty years old, elbowed their way onto the staff of General George Washington. It will follow them as they launch their competitive legal practices in New York City, the new country's bustling commercial center of thirty thousand people, through the insanity of the election of 1800, when Hamilton threw his support behind Thomas Jefferson in an effort to kck Burr out of the running for president, and through countless surprising moments in their past, such as when Burr saved Hamilton from capture and possible death at the hands of the British. Sharply realized and compellingly written, Rivals Unto Death transports readers to the era of Hamilton and Burr and explores how what was once considered the New World ended up being too small for the both of them.
Rick Beyer is the best-selling author of the Greatest Stories Never Told series as well as the co-author with Elizabeth Sayles of The Ghost Army of World War II. He has also produced history documentaries for PBS, The History Channel, A&E, National Geographic, and the Smithsonian, among other television networks.