The inspiration for the hit Broadway musical Hamilton!
In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, National Book Award winner Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is “a robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all.”
Few 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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Great Book, Scoundrel for a Subject
While Chernow does a great job sketching out Hamilton's life here, the real picture of Hamilton really is not so rosy. He pushed for national government in order to benefit his banker friends (who financed their private debts as public debts through currency manipulation, often taxing Revolutionary War soldiers for the value their currencies lost in depreciation [a sneaky double tax]) and to line the pockets of the "Founding Fathers." He really deserves the name "American Caesar," as Jefferson would have it.
Before the pandemic and the Hamilton musical, I had not thought too much about our past and Founding Fathers. This book opened the doors to the truth of our country’s complex and commonly misrepresented history, and the writings of a genius that created the Federalist, financial institutions, and laws that still permeate our Constitution. Thank you Ron Chernow, and thank you to the play that acted as a catalyst to my want of historical knowledge.
One of the best books I’ve ever read. It was my gym book for a few weeks and everyone thought I was crazy when I was getting excited or even crying while lifting weights. This dude did everything but form The Avengers.