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Ron Chernow

Author of Alexander Hamilton

18+ Works 18,216 Members 363 Reviews 26 Favorited

About the Author

Educated at Yale and Cambridge University in England, Ron Chernow is a biographer who specializes in hard-hitting exposes on historical business figures. Among Chernow's early accomplishments was his unmasking of corruption in Chinatown for New York magazine in 1973. In the book The House of show more Morgan, winner of the National Book Award in 1990, Chernow outlines the extraordinary path of J.P. Morgan's empire and its influence on the American banking industry. Chernow is also the author of Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, which chronicles the life and times of the richest man in the United States in the early 1900s. His other work includes The Warburgs, The Death of a Banker, Alexander Hamilton, Washington: A Life, and Grant. Chernow is regular guest on the National Public Radio programs Fresh Air with Terry Gross and All Things Considered. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Includes the name: Ron Chernow

Image credit: Sigrid Estrada

Works by Ron Chernow

Associated Works

Hamilton [2020 film] (2020) — Original story — 6 copies
1109 the Warburg House : An Informal Guided Tour (1984) — Introduction, some editions — 1 copy


Common Knowledge

Legal name
Chernow, Ronald
New York, New York, USA (Brooklyn)
Places of residence
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Pembroke College, Cambridge (M.Phil ∙ Literature ∙ 1972)
Yale College (B.A.|1970)
PEN American Center
The Century Foundation
Society of American Historians
Awards and honors
National Humanities Medal (2015)
American History Book Prize (2011)
George S. Eccles Prize for Excellence in Economic Writing (1993)
George Washington Book Prize (2004)
BIO Award (2013)
National Institute of Social Science Gold Medal Honoree (2017)
Melanie Jackson
Caitlin McKenna
Short biography
Ronald "Ron" Chernow (born March 3, 1949) is an American writer, journalist, historian, and biographer. He has written bestselling and award-winning biographies of historical figures from the world of business, finance, and American politics.



Chernow has a knack for digging into the details of a person's life, personally and professionally. He took on the project of writing John D. Rockefeller Sr's life story after he studied other biographies about the man and discovered that significant parts of Rockefeller's life had either been glossed over or omitted altogether. Other biographers (who shall remain nameless) focused more on Rockefeller the business man than Rockefeller the person after retirement. Even though it is true that John D. Rockefeller was history's first billionaire, he had an interesting life beyond the lifelong quest for money. Never mind the fact that at a young age he did declare that someday "he was going to be the richest man in America." There was more to the man than business smarts. He was a man of great contradictions. While he was a ruthless businessman hell bent on crippling competitors, he also understood the benefits of philanthropy and gave generous to causes and people in which he believed. He continuously bailed his brother out of debt time and time again while disowning his father just as often. More on that later.
By having unrestricted access to interviews and papers and by using Rockefeller's own memoirs, Chernow was able to weave a first person voice throughout the history of the times.
Rockefeller disowned his father at a very young age, telling people his father was dead; his mother, a widow. Indeed, "Big Bill" was a bigamist, scam artist, and liar. Not someone John D. wanted to be associated with. Luckily, John's relationship with his own son, Junior, was not a contemptuous relationship.
By the end of Titan I was overwhelmed by number of projects to whom the Rockefeller name is attached: the Museum of Modern Art, the Grand Tetons, Acadia, Colonial Williamsburg, I could go on and on.
… (more)
SeriousGrace | 28 other reviews | May 5, 2024 |
Very informative and readable. Includes formative years, civil war, and presidency. At 900 pages, takes the time to go into depth on everything. Gives us the early successes and failures; shows us why Grant is considered a tactical and especially a strategic military genius, and a better general than Robert E Lee; gives us reasons (beating back the early KKK, and his not-entirely-successful efforts, with Reconstruction, to make the USA a safe and prosperous place for black citizens) to re-evaluate the Grant presidency in a more positive light.… (more)
rscottm182gmailcom | 60 other reviews | Mar 12, 2024 |
Everything about Grant you'd ever want to know--this book was over 1000 pp. long. Covering Grant's life from his early life, civilian failures, his role in the Civil War, postbellum life as President and his around-the-world-trip where he was lionized by many heads of state, to his final days suffering from cancer and feverishly writing his memoirs, finishing just before his death, hoping the book will bring in enough money to keep his wife, Julia, in comfort. The author dispels his time as president, detailing scandals during that time, and in his opinion, a result of his personality traits of naivety and thinking the best of everyone. This leads to his sinking all he has into a Ponzi scheme in which he loses everything. This leads him to write his memoirs, then published by Mark Twain. [Presidents got no pensions in those days.] I liked best the sections on his and Julia's travels and the last chapter, "Taps", a poignant section telling of his last days. I skimmed the president section, but he did do some positive things despite scandals--tried to carry out Reconstruction, protect black people, champion Native Americans, and shut down the Ku Klux Klan terrorizing the South.… (more)
1 vote
janerawoof | 60 other reviews | Mar 4, 2024 |
Known primarily as the general who accepted Lee's surrender at Appomattox, Ulysses Grant, in the hands of Ron Chernow, moves through his varied history as a man fully alive, capable of reaching into the future to influence a still troubled nation.
ben_r47 | 60 other reviews | Feb 22, 2024 |



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