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by Ron Chernow
Top Five Books of 2016 (382)
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English (22)
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0143034758, Paperback)Building on biographies by Richard Brookhiser and Willard Sterne Randall, Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton provides what may be the most comprehensive modern examination of the often overlooked Founding Father. From the start, Chernow argues that Hamilton’s premature death at age 49 left his record to be reinterpreted and even re-written by his more long-lived enemies, among them: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and James Monroe. Hamilton’s achievements as first Secretary of the Treasury, co-author of The Federalist Papers, and member of the Constitutional Convention were clouded after his death by strident claims that he was an arrogant, self-serving monarchist. Chernow delves into the almost 22,000 pages of letters, manuscripts, and articles that make up Hamilton’s legacy to reveal a man with a sophisticated intellect, a romantic spirit, and a late-blooming religiosity.
One fault of the book, is that Chernow is so convinced of Hamilton’s excellence that his narrative sometimes becomes hagiographic. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Chernow’s account of the infamous duel between Hamilton and Aaron Burr in 1804. He describes Hamilton’s final hours as pious, while Burr, Jefferson, and Adams achieve an almost cartoonish villainy at the news of Hamilton’s passing.
A defender of the union against New England secession and an opponent of slavery, Hamilton has a special appeal to modern sensibilities. Chernow argues that in contrast to Jefferson and Washington’s now outmoded agrarian idealism, Hamilton was "the prophet of the capitalist revolution" and the true forebear of modern America. In his Prologue, he writes: "In all probability, Alexander Hamilton is the foremost figure in American history who never attained the presidency, yet he probably had a much deeper and more lasting impact than many who did." With Alexander Hamilton, this impact can now be more widely appreciated. --Patrick O'Kelley
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:16 -0400)
"Alexander Hamilton was arguably the most important figure in American history who never attained the presidency, but he had a far more lasting impact than many who did." "An illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, Hamilton rose with stunning speed to become George Washington's aide-de-camp, a battlefield hero, a member of the Constitutional Convention, the leading author of The Federalist Papers, and head of the Federalist party. As the first treasury secretary, he forged America's tax and budget systems, customs service, coast guard, and central bank. Chernow offers the whole sweep of Hamilton's turbulent life: his exotic, brutal upbringing; his brilliant military, legal, and financial exploits; his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, and Monroe; his shocking illicit romances; his enlightened abolitionism; and his famous death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July 1804." "Throughout, Chernow blends Hamilton's public and private selves to present a fully rounded portrait of this handsome, witty, controversial genius and his poignant relations with his wife, Eliza, and their eight children. Hamilton's countless exploits never cramped his prolific literary labors. Chernow brings to light nearly fifty previously undiscovered essays as he explores Hamilton's fiery journalism, his youthful poetry, his magisterial state papers, and his revealing missives to colleagues and friends. Moreover, he conjures up portraits of Hamilton's celebrated peers, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Burr with all their shortcomings as well as their oft-sung triumphs."--Jacket.
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