Alexander Hamilton

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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.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jmchshannon - LibraryThing

This is going to be a rambling review because I learned so much and had an absolute blast listening to this behemoth that I cannot put my thoughts into anything resembling cohesiveness. I know you won ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Jarratt - LibraryThing

Certainly a well written account of Hamilton and his life. I think this book was more academic than Chernow's book on Washington. I'm pretty well-read, but he used A LOT of thesaurus-derived words ... Read full review

Contents

The Oldest Revolutionary War Widow
1
The Castaways
7
The Collegian
41
The Pen and the Sword
62
A Frenzy of Valor
107
The Lovesick Colonel 26
126
Raging Billows
167
A Grave Silent Strange Sort of Animal
187
A Disagreeable Trade
448
The Wicked Insurgents of the West
468
An Instrument of Hell
546
Works Godly and Ungodly
580
A World Full of Folly
640
A Despicable Opinion
680
The Melting Scene
710
Acknowledgments
733

Putting the Machine in Motion
270
The First Town in America
332
Stabbed in the Dark
419
Notes
739
Bibliography
780
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Ron Chernow is the prize-winning author of five previous books. His first, The House of Morgan, won the National Book Award. His two most recent books, Alexander Hamilton and Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, were both nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award in biography. Chernow lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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