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At age 77, Burr married a 58-year-old woman who “well may have entered prostitution” before becoming the mistress of a wealthy wine merchant. The couple split after six months, the wife accusing Burr of adultery and squandering her money; in reply, he made adultery charges against her. Burr died in 1834 at age 80, alone and bedridden in a boarding house.

As a historian, Mr. Stewart struggled to untangle a mare’s nest of intrigue and conflicting accounts, and his account is succinct. And as a former clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court and managing partner of a major Washington law firm, he makes sense of the complex legal issues involved. Regardless of the court verdict, Burr will ever be condemned by public opinion.

Joseph C. Goulden’s expanded edition of “Spy-Speak: The Dictionary of Intelligence” will be published by Dover Books in January.