Review: The Election of 1800

The Election of 1800: The History and Legacy of America’s Most Controversial Presidential Election is
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an easy read, not too expensive (available on Kindle Unlimited), and a must-read for anyone who thought the “politics of personal destruction” was something that sprang up in the 21st century. Thomas Jefferson might still be the reigning champion if only he had today’s social media tools at his disposal.

There were a few editorial errors in the book, e.g., spots where words were repeated. In one instance, a letter that was supposed to a be a follow up to another letter was the exact same letter. But, given that it’s not designed to be the ultimate reference source, I give anything from Charles River Editions a bit more leeway. If you want a more thorough and intricate approach to the subject, you might try Adamsvs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800 by John Ferling. I haven’t read it, but The Election of 1800 referenced it both in end notes and body copy several times. (I bought the audio version with one of my stockpiled credits so it's in my TBR pile.)

For me, the most interesting aspect of the book was that Adams was treated as only a secondary character. Jefferson is the leading man, of course, but there are several in the supporting cast including primarily Hamilton and, later, Aaron Burr. There is even a fairly detailed explanation of how the famous duel came about and various theories on what really happened. It’s all tied to the election, and for me, it’s a plus when an author can connect the dots between historical events. It helps bring things into focus.

As I mentioned, this is an easy read. It only took me about a week’s worth of workouts on my elliptical. The writing is straightforward and easy to follow. If you have a budding political scientist in your household, I’d even recommend it to middle or high-school aged children.

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