Books | Biography & Autobiography / Political
The #1 New York Times bestseller, and the inspiration for the hit Broadway musical Hamilton!Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow presents a landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation."Grand-scale biography at its best—thorough, insightful, consistently fair, and superbly written . . . A genuinely great book." —David McCullough“A robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all." —Joseph EllisFew 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.9780143034759
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"Great read. It is eerie how similar Hamilton’s struggles with the role of government are to our own times. "
"Chernow's "Hamilton" does justice to the oft-maligned and overlooked legacy of one of the greatest American geniuses of all time. Hamilton is finally - and rightfully - back in the spotlight now thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda's wildly popular hip-hop Broadway musical. This is the book that inspired the play.<br/><br/>It's easy to see why - Alexander Hamilton's biography has to be one of the greatest stories of all time. It's got everything - a tragic and impoverished childhood, a rags-to-riches immigrant story, war heroics, fiery personalities, unparalleled brilliance, massive lapses in judgement, cloak-and-dagger political machinations, extortion, duels, sex scandals, behind-the-scenes power struggles, and a cast of characters that's a who's-who of the Founding Fathers. And that's not all! Hamilton's legacy includes the creation of the Treasury Department, a central bank, the Federalist Papers, the Coast Guard, and the establishment of credit for the new nation. Oh, and he essentially ran the government when Washington was in office and established most of the precedents for how the vast administrative machinery of our nation operates to this very day.<br/><br/>I read Hamilton before I read The Power Broker, but armed with the knowledge of Robert Moses' career, I can't help but see many parallels between the two. Both were men who had a profound understanding of the mechanisms of government (often because they had created them!) and were able to impose their designs onto reality with startling effectiveness. Brilliant intertwining plans seemed to spring fully-formed from both of their minds. Both were men who sacrificed monetary gain in their quest for political power. Both had a nearly superhuman capacity for work. Both had legendarily strong personalities and both were profoundly intelligent - yet Hamilton seemed to retain many of his principles while Moses abandoned his in the pursuit of power.<br/><br/>A parallel also exists between the two mens' career-defining actions. Hamilton's deal to trade the location of the capitol in exchange for the federalization of the debt was a masterstroke that bore a striking resemblance to Moses' creation of the Triborough Authority. In both cases, the men used subtle economic arrangements to create long-term and lasting institutions of political power. Hamilton and Moses both possessed the rare trait of genius in both politics and economics. Both were immensely talented technocrats who were able to use their knowledge to see far further into the future than many of their contemporaries. This let them craft economic arrangements that inexorably caused society to follow the path they desired.<br/><br/>Yet unlike Moses, Hamilton's public image was much more controversial. His powerful enemies were able to effectively blackmail him because of his affair with Maria Reynolds and Hamilton seemed unable to prevent himself from several other major public missteps. Ultimately, Hamilton is a tragic figure whose devotion to his principles propelled him to great heights but also spelled his doom. Moses (and Lyndon B. Johnson, for that matter) don't seem to have suffered from this problem - of having principles, that is.<br/><br/>Chernow does a fantastic job of bringing Hamilton's story to life. His research is impeccable - finding important material that other biographers missed - and he presents a fair and balanced portrait of his subject. He also paints fascinating portraits of Washington (great judgement but little inspiration), Jefferson (schemer), Burr (snake), and Adams (insecure). Well worth the read, as is his "Titan" about Rockefeller.<br/><br/>Full review and highlights at <a href="http://books.max-nova.com/hamilton/">http://books.max-nova.com/hamilton/</a>"