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4.8 out of 5 stars
43
4.8 out of 5 stars


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on 19 January 2017
An absolutely phenomenal book. Thorougly researched, supported by numerous sources, it is a nuanced, balaned, multi-faceted, and very intelligent account of the of the greatest men who ever livef. Superb.
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on 1 June 2017
This book is truly phenomenal. Gorgeous language, amazing story. I really enjoyed the economics background and the scandal. My daughter told me about the musical and I was intrigued to learn more. Eliza would have loved this book.
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on 5 June 2012
"Alexander Hamilton" is a fascinating book about one of America's least appreciated Founding Fathers. But Hamilton was the main author of "The Federalist Papers" and he secured America's financial stability and growth in the early years of the Republic. The America we have today is not the America of Jeffersonian democracy but it much more closely resembles the America of Hamilton's vision. The author clearly loves his subject, sometimes losing his objectivity, but it is story worth reading. Hamilton is the quintessential "American," in that he came from abroad, from relatively humble origins, but through hard work and perserverence he rose to the pinnacle of American politics. He was by no means a perfect figure, but he certainly was a colourful one. Chernow has an irreverance for Jefferson that some Americans might find surprising. as Jefferson is considered one of America's three greatest Presidents, but Chernow gives us a different side to Ameria's third President. All in all, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the early years of the American Republic.
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on 30 May 2017
Came here because of Lin Manuel Miranda, stayed because the book had me hooked instantly. It's amazing to think Alexander Hamilton was a real person because he almost feels supernatural when you learn about his life and his mind. I think the lines from the song Take A Break: "A polymath, a pain in the ass, a massive pain" perfectly capture Hamilton. I would definitely recommend this book.
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on 8 June 2017
Magnificent book.I have felt a large admiration for this man after reading this book.
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on 16 June 2017
Love the book
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on 9 June 2017
Good book
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on 11 June 2017
Brilliant book
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on 12 March 2017
Firstly let me explain. So, my daughter persuades me to listen to this new musical, taking Broadway by storm. About some American bloke who was one of the Founding Fathers. Now I am from Washington, but the one in NE England, the ancestral home of the president of the same name. As a Brit, my knowledge of American History was non-existent so further research was required. It made sense to me to get the book that Mr Miranda had used as the basis of his musical.

This is a proper history text, not a fictionalized account. Correctly referenced and full of quotes and extracts. I have learned much about the Revolution and the beginnings of the modern United States. BIG TIP If you like to read in bed, get the Kindle version. I started with the paperback, but had to switch as I don't have hands like plates or muscles like a savvy.
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on 11 April 2015
History has not been kind to Alexander Hamilton. To the extent that he's remembered at all, he's the face of the ten dollar bill, or the aristocratic foil to Jefferson's democratic republic. That latter image is a travesty of the truth and yet it endures for one simple reason: history is usually written by the winners. Not only did Hamilton lose but those with whom he feuded were of the eminence of John Adams, the aforementioned Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison; men who not only governed America through the first quarter of the 19th century but wrote its history too.

In fact, as Chernow demonstrates in this outstanding biography, Hamilton more than justifies his place right alongside those other founding fathers. Unlike them - who were genuine Southern aristocrats and Northern old money - he lived the American dream. An immigrant, born and raised in harsh conditions in the West Indies (the experiences of which left him an abolitionist on the question of slavery), he journeyed to America as a young man and never looked back. Prodigiously talented and a workaholic, he arrived at just the right moment, both for himself and his adopted country: the Revolution, when the old hierarchy was falling and the new one not yet in place. Over the next twenty years, usually as Washington's chief lieutenant, he would do as much as anyone to build that new country and give it the tools to become the global power of the twentieth century; a vision Hamilton clearly understood when Jefferson was still dreaming of essentially a farmers' republic. However, the skills and characteristics that made him a great polemicist, political theorist, administrator and lawyer also made him a poor practical politician. Too dismissive of those with whom he disagreed, too quick to take offence and too often seeing events in black and white, he lacked judgement in human affairs. It's notable how quickly his political career spiralled downwards once away from the steadying influence of Washington.

Chernow paces his telling of Hamilton's story extremely well. It's a long book - the narrative runs for well over 700 pages - but it never drags. That's partly because Hamilton packed so much into his short life but also because of how well it's written. The depth and quality of research is evident throughout (particularly that surrounding Hamilton's early years), as is how it's masterfully deployed to support the story rather than for its own sake. Similarly, although Chernow is not averse to including the occasional obscure word, the book is very accessible and readable.

He strikes exactly the right balance between providing the authoritative single-volume history of Hamilton's life and writing an exciting and engaging read. That's particularly impressive given that Hamilton spent so much time in the abstract: creating political, military, economic, financial and administrative systems and concepts (although he invariably made a reality of those concepts later), yet also led a very human life.

Any criticisms? Precious few. Chernow perhaps forgives some of Hamilton's failings more readily than he does similar failings of other men of the day but considering the press his subject has had for two centuries, that's maybe understandable. In any case, a reader has the evidence to assess such judgements for him- or herself. Chernow also references Hamilton's relationship with Aaron Burr throughout with a sense of looming foreboding more than is necessarily justified. But still, these are minor points beside what is an outstanding work.

This book caused me to reassess my views of many of America's greatest founding fathers, as well as giving me a far greater appreciation of Hamilton himself, great but flawed man that he was. I would strongly recommend simply as a great tale of an extraordinary life. For anyone with an interest in the early history of the United States, it's essential reading.
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