Books: Poison Pens

Safire's novel frolics with the Founding Fathers

William Safire's vigorously animated historical novel, Scandalmonger (Simon & Schuster: 496 pages; $27), is barely under way when we are made privy to mutual adultery between Alexander Hamilton and the fetching Mrs. Maria Reynolds, a little known contributor to affairs of state during the 1790s.

This bodice-ripping encounter starring a Founding Father and a femme fatale may or may not be faithful to history, but it is definitely a reliable narrative device. Safire, the snappy, right-hooking political columnist for the New York Times, can always be counted on to keep his readers informed while also in a state of high expectation.


Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!