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Alexander Hamilton

A book by Ron Chernow

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Alexander Hamilton, by Chernow

  • Jul 9, 2010
Rating:
+3
I finally finished Alexander Hamilton, and, despite the fact that I had to put it down several times, I gave it a "3" ranking. 

I had to put it down pretty often, out of boredom, because it was such a thoroughly-researched biography that there were almost too many facts, and Chernow seemed to have included every last one of them. The flip side of that is that, when you're finished, you know about all you're ever going to need (or want) to know about Hamilton.

Conversely, I gave it a "3" ranking because of Chernow's thoroughness.  This is not some glossed-over bio, and it certainly throws in all the misadventures, misgivings, and misjudgments surrounding Hamilton.  Chernow pulls no punches. Hamilton was a financial whiz kid, and established a national bank and the national debt, and we are very fortunate that someone had the foresight to do so.

But he also had a mistress, whom he tried to keep hidden, but when the mistress decided to extort Hamilton, everything became public, and his already numerous critics had another battering ram with which to pummel Hamilton's gates.

I found the subject to be fascinating, and the critical whirlpools Hamilton found himself in the middle of were very entertaining. He usually had an opinion, especially on political issues, and he was not shy about writing about them, usually in a series of articles under his pen name "du jour."  And this brought him praise and calamity.

And you know the end: Aaron Burr gave him a fatal wound in a duel. But are you aware of how people generally felt about Burr? Both before and after the duel? Do you know the story behind the grassy New Jersey area where the duel took place? Again, both before and after the Hamilton-Burr duel?

You need to read this book. It drags at spots, so speed-read through those, But it also explains so much about Hamilton and the era of the Revolution that you won't believe what you didn't know.

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More Alexander Hamilton reviews
review by . July 17, 2010
Tell you what.  I just joined this History club, and a read several of your book reviews, and you all sound so erudite, that I thought I'b better write something better than what I'd just written about Alexander Hamilton, by Chernow.  I want to tell you what most intrigued ME.  I read the whole book.  Absorbed it.  I am not a person of erudition, but I can explain what caught my eye. So, what I want to write now is also true, if a bit more raw.      …
review by . September 20, 2010
During the 1980s, during the period when Bank of New York launched its hostile take-over of Irving Bank, the following anecdote circulated. As Alexander Hamilton was getting into the boat to be rowed across the Hudson River to Weehawken where he was scheduled to duel Aaron Burr, he turned to his aide and said, "Don't do anything until I return." The story concluded, unfortunately, the aide and all of his successors took Hamilton at his word. The anecdote, though funny at the time …
review by . March 07, 2009
This is simply one of the most outstanding biographies of an eminent American I've ever read. It is exhaustively researched, provides a wealth of details about Hamilton's life without being trivial, and is extremely well written. It also does an outstanding job of bringing Alexander Hamilton's personality to life and gives the reader a better understanding and empathy for this important founding father.     Hamilton without a doubt was a brilliant self-made man, rising from a …
review by . March 09, 2009
This is an insightful and deeply immersing account of one of our lesser-known yet most important founders. I enjoyed every rich page of it. Ron Chernow is a business writer by training, and paints a portrait of Hamilton as the father not only our constitution but also our economic system. To understand America, you must understand Hamilton.    If there is a flaw to this book, it is the flaw most typical of biographers: Chernow falls in love with his subject. By the end of this …
review by . July 26, 2004
This is simply one of the most outstanding biographies of an eminent American I've ever read. It is exhaustively researched, provides a wealth of details about Hamilton's life without being trivial, and is extremely well written. It also does an outstanding job of bringing Alexander Hamilton's personality to life and gives the reader a better understanding and empathy for this important founding father.    Hamilton without a doubt was a brilliant self-made man, rising from a …
review by . June 07, 2004
Chenrow had one thing in mind while writing, "Alexander Hamilton"... a Pulitzer Prize. In fact, my chief complaint is that in trying to win the Pulitzer, Chenrow made the work a little less readable. While not quite as witty as David McCullough's masterpiece, "John Adams", it still should be considered the favorite for the top prize. Chenrow was able to portray Hamilton's life as remarkably as it was lived. In a world that is fascinated by Jefferson and Adams, Hamilton is brought to life as the …
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Barkalow ()
Ranked #1363
Not gregarious in crowds.   Dry humor.   Like unsweetened iced tea. (and it's "iced," not "ice")   Love John Sandford's books.   Love … more
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Building on biographies byRichard BrookhiserandWillard Sterne Randall, Ron Chernow’sAlexander Hamiltonprovides 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 ofThe 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 ...

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Details

ISBN-10: 1594200092
ISBN-13: 978-1594200090
Author: Ron Chernow
Genre: American History, Biography
Publisher: Penguin Press
Date Published: (April 26, 2004)
Format: Hardcover,Paperback,Audio CD
First to Review

"Fascinating"
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