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Alexander Hamilton

A book by Ron Chernow

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Me Again

  • Jul 17, 2010
  • by
Rating:
+3
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.

Hamilton was well-read from when he was little, having met very few children as an orphan, but having met an [uncle? friend?]  who took him in, and gave him a job as the financier of the [uncle/friends"] import-export company. Because Hamilton was an avid reader, and had access to ledgers and maps, he studied hard, and became an trades expert by age 16, in the daily exchange rates, in trade winds, trade routes, and commodities.  He also studied hard in various financial and economic theory.

He went to the Colonies to get an education at King's College (kna Columbia Univ), and was often outspoken in campus soapbox issues, taking the stand of the revolutionaries.

In The War, he was Washington;s aide-du-camp, and rarely left his side, except once, to get wounded in a battle the he insisted he was destined to play a part. Washington took him under his wing again, and Hamilton was always at his side, even as Secretary of the Treasury during Washington's administration.

Hamilton was an outspoken forefather, who never, even let a slight pass. He had enormous confidence in his oratorical abilities, and even more in his written word.  He would often, frequently make [at least social]  enemies with his mouth and, even more often, with his pen, both of which would often get him into a letter-a-letter shouting match which threatened to result in a duel.

He had an affair, for which he was being extorted.  He had a long-time hatred of Burr's antics and political views, for which he paid the price. In public. (And for which Burr eventually also paid the price).

He was headstrong, always convinced of his rightness (and, frequently, righteousness), and had a sense of honor the size of Manhattan, which may have been slightly edged out only by the size of his ego.

He wrote many of his speeches for the continental Congress, only to begin astounding (and boring) the other delegates by orating ad lib, and accurately quoting his authorities, also ad lib.  His arguments were very persuasive, and may have been even more aggressively listened to, had they not gone on for hours.

But, in no small measure due to Hamilton, orations and arguments, the Constitution passed, but had to be ratified. Hamilton was given to street-corner oration, and occasionally barely escaped bodily harm.

Hamilton was always on to feel that he deserved what he earned, and that others, if they studied and worked hard, as he had done, could also get what they deserved. He always spoke his mind, frequently getting him into tough situations, and was willing to duel it out, a somewhat formalized, illegal, last resort which rarely came to fruition because part of the procedure involved one party to formally apologize to the other for his remarks (often made under the influence of that Demon Rum), and nothing more came of it.

In Hamilton's written confrontation with Burr, played out in newspapers and pamphlets under pseudonyms, honor trumped common sense, none of the rigeurs of dueling procedure came into play, and a dark day not only passed in our history, but is remembered still today.

Though some people though Hamilton was an outspoken jerk, he worked very ,very hard as a public servant., and honorably represented the people of New York.  To learn how such a financial and political genius could be both reviled and loved is worth the whole book.  Read bits and pieces of it. Read a chapter at a time. But if you want to understand Hamilton and the enormous influence he had on stabilizing the first struggling years our country went through, read the Chernow book.

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More Alexander Hamilton reviews
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 . July 09, 2010
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 …
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 ()
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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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