Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I, like many, am caught up in the giant swirl of love for the musical “Hamilton.”After listening to the soundtrack dozens of times, I was ready to dive into the source material.
This is a very long, very well-written, very exhaustive biography of Alexander Hamilton, one of our founding fathers who simultaneously made great things, and HUGE mistakes, with his overactive pen and mouth. After a crappy childhood in the West Indies, A.Ham (with the help of benefactors) made his way to the British colonies in America. He fell in with the right group of people, and the rest is history. Literally!
I’m not a history person, and the only part that made me almost quit was the Federalist Papers. Luckily, there wasn’t a test at the end of the book, so I accepted that I didn’t have to memorize this stuff, just appreciate it. And I did.
What struck me most is that the Founding Fathers were making it all up as they went along. They were flawed men with large egos who preached that doom would happen if opponents were listened to. So, pretty much JUST like today.
I chuckled at how our leading thinkers ripped each other to shreds through “anonymous” newspaper essays and letters. Those writings are the building blocks upon which today’s newspaper comment sections are built!
Joking aside, Chernow did a fantastic job of not only describing the events of Hamilton’s short and brutish life but making sure we knew that all of the players were human.
Also, Eliza Hamilton had a hell of a second act. I’m glad her story was told, too.