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Alexander Hamilton

by Ron Chernow

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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5,3721161,361 (4.32)191
Publisher's description: In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, National Book Award winner Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is "a robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all." Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow's biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today's America is the result of Hamilton's countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. "To repudiate his legacy," Chernow writes, "is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world." Chernow here recounts Hamilton's turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washington's aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, coauthoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party, and becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States. Historians have long told the story of America's birth as the triumph of Jefferson's democratic ideals over the aristocratic intentions of Hamilton. Chernow presents an entirely different man, whose legendary ambitions were motivated not merely by self-interest but by passionate patriotism and a stubborn will to build the foundations of American prosperity and power. His is a Hamilton far more human than we've encountered before-from his shame about his birth to his fiery aspirations, from his intimate relationships with childhood friends to his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Monroe, and Burr, and from his highly public affair with Maria Reynolds to his loving marriage to his loyal wife Eliza. And never before has there been a more vivid account of Hamilton's famous and mysterious death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July of 1804. Chernow's biography is not just a portrait of Hamilton, but the story of America's birth seen through its most central figure. At a critical time to look back to our roots, Alexander Hamilton will remind readers of the purpose of our institutions and our heritage as Americans.… (more)

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» See also 191 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 112 (next | show all)
I got this book for my wife because she loves the music from the musical.Yeah,she didn't want to read the book so much.

So I read this book and for me,because I like history,I really liked this book.We start with his birth and life in the Caribbean.Then he is in the colonies and The Revolutionary War,and for me this is where he first shines.When the army is running low on supplies he is the person that has to see that they receive food and supplies.

That's very simplistic and just one of the many things that happens during the war.

Hamilton is a lawyer and becomes a politician,creating the Coast Guard,and a banking system.

He had gotten married in this time and had at least five children maybe seven.

The historical/war/family part of the book really held my interest.And then there was the political side ... and that part was just sort of boring. ( )
  chalton | Jul 14, 2020 |
This is going to be a rambling review because I learned so much and had an absolute blast listening to this behemoth that I cannot put my thoughts into anything resembling cohesiveness.

I know you won't be surprised when I say this but history books are wrong, y'all. The founding fathers were not this noble group of leaders. Based on Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton, they were among some of the most egotistical, power-hungry people that I have ever read about. In fact, you have to wonder if a certain orange president models his own behavior after them because they were THAT. BAD.

For one thing, Thomas Jefferson was an asshat who ignored the truth for his entire life because to tell lies made him appear nobler than Hamilton. I mean, Hamilton sat through two different congressional reviews of his policies and actions while Secretary of the Treasury and was proved innocent of any wrongdoing both times, but Jefferson STILL told his followers that Hamilton misappropriated funds and continued to do so for the rest of his life! And that was only one example. Mr. Chernow includes so many other examples of Jefferson ignoring the truth to better his image for his followers.

One of the most egregious examples of this is the fact that Thomas Jefferson passed himself off as an everyman and accused Hamilton of being an elitist when Jefferson is the one with slaves and money and only hobnobbed with the crème de la crème of society while Hamilton frequently had money issues and was self-made. In fact, this is the image passed down to us by history because winners write the history books, and Jefferson had an additional twenty plus years to distort the truth about Hamilton after his death.

Plus, I have a sneaking suspicion that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, and their Republican party, led to the Civil War. Mr. Chernow doesn't tell us so in so many words, but there are a lot of steps Jefferson and Madison take that have a direct effect on the North versus the South fissure. It makes you rethink everything you learned about the founding of the country and the causes of the Civil War.

Other things I learned - Mr. Chernow loves Alexander Hamilton. There is no removal of bias in this biography. To be fair, he does present Hamilton with all his flaws, like freaking admitting to an affair in the newspaper. But there is no doubt he adores Hamilton with his use of words like remarkable, talented, extraordinary, genius, gifted, brilliant, and any other positive adjective one can use to describe a person. I say this with the belief that I do not feel Mr. Chernow vilified any one person in Hamilton's favor. He corroborates his more defamatory descriptions of certain individuals with letters from peers or personal writings to show how others thought the same. He is so careful to prove his point that it serves to drive home the point that pretty much anything you learned about Hamilton in school was incorrect.

In addition, if you think Lin-Manual Miranda told the entire story and that reading or listening to Alexander Hamilton is redundant, you are wrong. Mr. Miranda, among other things, played with the timeline of certain events. He ignored Angelica's husband. He barely touched the feud with John Adams, who was a whiny little cretin. He misled his audience into Aaron Burr's reasons for challenging Hamilton to the duel. He downplayed Hamilton's and Washington's relationship over the years. Plus, there were plenty of other scandals and details that Mr. Miranda could not include in his musical, if only because it would have made it ten hours long. Still, it was a lot of fun to come across a line in the book that ended up becoming a song in the musical, as much fun as it was to find out where Mr. Miranda played with history to tell his version of the story.

I cannot remember when I last enjoyed such a lengthy audiobook. At thirty-six hours, it is a commitment, and some of the details of Hamilton's life requires careful attention to details. Still, I enjoyed every minute of this experience, including the huge swath of fiscal policy Hamilton created. Scott Brick is a fantastic narrator in his own right, and you can tell he had a lot of fun narrating this one. In fact, I think Mr. Brick has a man-crush on Hamilton himself. It makes the whole thing even more fun to hear an unabashed admirer of Hamilton narrate his story.

The musical made me a fan, but Alexander Hamilton made me a true believer in the man's genius as well as the unfair treatment he received at the hands of his foes during his life and after it. Mr. Chernow spares no detail in examining the life of this remarkable man. I only wish he had written it after the orange president took office because I would love to hear some of his comparisons between past and present now. ( )
1 vote jmchshannon | May 1, 2020 |
Hamilton, Alexander (Subject)
  LOM-Lausanne | Apr 30, 2020 |
*4.5 ( )
  Fortunesdearest | Apr 10, 2020 |
Ron Chernow has long been a favorite author of mine. A former journalist with considerable knowledge of the workings of finance, he combines these two strengths to write superb books that illuminate the history of the American economy. His biography of Alexander Hamilton demonstrates his abilities to the fullest, as it offers one of the clearest descriptions of the foundations of American fiscal policy available. Yet this is secondary to the main theme of Chernow's biography, which is Hamilton's restless ambition, one that fueled both his impressive accomplishments and his self-destructive conduct in public life.

Lucid as it is, though, Chernow's book also possesses some glaring flaws. While his command of financial detail is sure, his knowledge of the early republic is less so, which leads to occasional mistakes about the historical context. Moreover, while better balanced than previous studies of Hamilton, Chernow often dismisses or spins material that reflect poorly on his subject; even his affair with Maria Reynolds is explained in part as a consequence of his sense of chivalry. Negative interpretations are saved for Hamilton's opponents, who are viewed in the worst possible light — Jefferson is hypocritical, John Adams is vain and insecure, Aaron Burr is a duplicitous foe whose dual with Hamilton is constantly foreshadowed in the text. Such depictions sow doubt about the validity of the author's conclusions and mar what is other respects an excellent account of one of America's most important "founding fathers." ( )
  MacDad | Mar 27, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 112 (next | show all)
In this favorable, hefty biography of Alexander Hamilton, Chernow (The Warburgs; The House of Morgan) makes the case for him as one of the most important Founding Fathers, arguing that America is heir to the Hamiltonian vision of the modern economic state. His sweeping narrative chronicles the complicated and often contradictory life of Hamilton, from his obscure birth on Nevis Island to his meteoric rise as confidant to Washington, coauthor of The Federalist Papers, and America's first Treasury secretary, to his bizarre death at the hands of Aaron Burr. A running theme is the contradictions exhibited during his life: a member of the Constitutional Convention, Hamilton nevertheless felt that the Constitution was seriously flawed and was fearful of rule by the people. A devoted father and husband, he had two known affairs. Lastly, he was philosophically and morally opposed to dueling, and yet that's how he met his end. Although quite sympathetic to Hamilton, Chernow attempts to present both sides of his many controversies, including Hamilton's momentous philosophical battles with Jefferson. Chernow relies heavily on primary sources and previously unused volumes of Hamilton's writings. A first-rate life and excellent addition to the ongoing debate about Hamilton's importance in the shaping of America.
added by kthomp25 | editLibrary Journal

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ron Chernowprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, GabrieleCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Valerie, best of wives and best of women.
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In the early 1850s, few pedestrians strolling past the house on H Street in Washington, near the White House, realized that the ancient widow seated by the window, knitting and arranging, was the last surviving link to the glory days of the republic.
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