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 Ellis
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
It's rare that 800-page history books are this much fun—least of all biographies of dead politicians. But with Alexander Hamilton, Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Chernow proves he’s a master of the genre. Having tackled John D. Rockefeller Sr. and J.P. Morgan, the historian pulls you into the life story of the most federally minded founding father and America’s first Secretary of the Treasury. From his illegitimate birth in the Caribbean islands to his premature death in a duel with Aaron Burr, Hamilton’s life is so theatrical that it’s no wonder this biography inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking Broadway musical Hamilton.
After hulking works on J.P. Morgan, the Warburgs and John D. Rockefeller, what other grandee of American finance was left for Chernow's overflowing pen than the one who puts the others in the shade? Alexander Hamilton (1755 1804) created public finance in the United States. In fact, it's arguable that without Hamilton's political and financial strategic brilliance, the United States might not have survived beyond its early years. Chernow's achievement is to give us a biography commensurate with Hamilton's character, as well as the full, complex context of his unflaggingly active life. Possessing the most powerful (though not the most profound) intelligence of his gifted contemporaries, Hamilton rose from Caribbean bastardy through military service in Washington's circle to historic importance at an early age and then, in a new era of partisan politics, gradually lost his political bearings. Chernow makes fresh contributions to Hamiltoniana: no one has discovered so much about Hamilton's illegitimate origins and harrowed youth; few have been so taken by Hamilton's long-suffering, loving wife, Eliza. Yet it's hard not to cringe at some of Hamilton's hotheaded words and behavior, especially sacrificing the well-being of his family on the altar of misplaced honor. This is a fine work that captures Hamilton's life with judiciousness and verve. Illus.
This is the exhaustive account of the life and times of one of the most influential founding fathers. Written beautifully and informative as possible. Chernow is an amazing historian who happens to be an amazing writer as well. Download the free copy of Hamilton's Federalist Papers to refer back to while reading this book. Must read for sure.
I appreciate the depth of insight and analysis into the world of 1700s America. The culture, with all its brokenness, shame-based relationships, as well as the incredible heights & achievements, is so clearly depicted here.
I highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in 18th century culture.
Hamilton and so much more
Not only a great biography of that forgotten founding father, but a terrific story of the US Constitution. Hamilton was instrumental in aiding Washington in the Revolutionary War, and also in the founding of such institutions as the Federal Reserve. He was definitely a federalist, but also understood the people, because of his Caribbean upbringing. The book can be a little tedious at times, but thank you for focusing on a mostly ignored but significant originator of many of our country’s fundamentals.