Don't you just love a great story well told?
First point: A.H. is perfectly produced. This review tries hard to mention only major themes without spoiling actual details. Many (even who liked history class) are vaguely unimpressed by Hamilton often portrayed as a dandy concerned with money, big cities, and big government. (*WARNING* skip the end review if you want EVERY last fact to be a surprise.) MANY also think of Jefferson as "that cool country oriented founding father", the "down-to-earth homespun guy" (which was apparently a carefully crafted image, 'homespun' was early spin!) and, of course, author of the D.o.I. Chernow describes Hamilton as a fervent worker, superior to Jefferson in many ways. (You won't dislike Jefferson, just learn much more respect for Hamilton.) HAMILTON was one who TRULY lived "the American dream" of rags to riches. Also he was no hypocrite about slaves. Hamilton's huge part in writing the remarkably persuasive "Federalist Papers", convinced bigger states (who saw NO reason at all to cede ANY power to anyone) feel the NEED to join a central government. Read, too, about one of the first sex scandals in America, how insults were REALLY dealt in those times (was it always pistols at dawn?). Finally, it is very pertinent today that Chernow explains how deeply our founding fathers feared "factions", they called them, would develop. They were right to fear deeply entrenched political parties that now block laws that might serve the greater good. This is a MUST read for any lover of history. A. H. was a young genius and did much to help bind our divided states into a unified America. He was the top lawyer for N.Y and worked for George. Washington! Alexander Hamilton rightly deserves to be a top "founding father" and not disrespected by history as the hot-headed lawyer obsessed with money.
I subscribe to the comments of another reviewer that this just may be the perfect biography. This epic (and I do not use the word lightly) tome is less about Hamilton than it is about the era in which he lived. Chernow's talent is to place his character in context. I learned more about the revolutionary period than I ever expected. In the end, I was conflicted about the subject. Hamilton, at least as chronicled here, was not a particularly admirable character. In some ways I was content to say that I would rather have lived with my own preconceived notions. But at the same time, Chernow recreates a vanished world that is uncomfortably familiar; perhaps too much so. Like many of the principles in Hamilton's own life, I was left with a profound combination of pity and admiration for the man. But in retrospect, the most amazing thing about this story is that Hamilton did all that he did and yet is a relatively obscure character in American history. Although Chernow amply explains all of the reasons Hamilton is not lionized today, one is still left with a sense of personal guilt that we have not done more to recognize the contradictory brilliance of Alexander Hamilton.
I agree that this piece reads like a novel. It is a classic "page-turner". But the rages and torments of Hamilton's life eventually began to wear me down. Perhaps that was Chernow's plan? By the closing chapters of the book I found myself more than ready to see Hamilton's demise. His self-destructive antics could not lead to anything else.
In the end, this is a tragedy; and a damn fine one at that. Ron Chernow may just be responsible for rewriting a big chunk of American history. The test of the influence of this biography will be if we see the construction of a Hamilton Monument in Washingtton, D.C. If anyone is going to jumpstart that long-overdue kudo, it is Chernow and this amazing piece of literature.
I felt this book was so well written and beautifully read, that it was important for me to share my thoughts, publicly. It truly moved me. My review may not be eloquent, but, Ron Chernow writes a wonderful book. Scott Brick narrates with sensitivity. It maps out A.H.'s life as a young boy in the West Indies to his final days in New York City. After listening to the book, I feel I know how life must have been for A.H.. Additionally, the lives of those he touched and those that influenced him. Alexander Hamilton had such an amazing life of 49 years. A.H. was such an important founding father of modern day America. Bravo!
I have always admired A.H., and empathized with him most closely of all the founding farthers. This is a well read and terrifically written biography. The perspective is very generous to him, and a little malicious on his rivals; however, balance is still maintained and the flawed but brilliant patriot shines through.
As an aside, my respect for the leadership capabilities of George Washington (often underated) are increased from this book. Once his leadership is missing the collective brillance of his team seems to wayne.
This is a breathtaking biography. Despite its length, my interest never flagged. The author keeps the pace going & the interest attracted to the various stories. He is very even-handed in his evaluation of Hamilton ... you see his great qualities & his weak ones, and their consequences. I liked the fact that the book did not tumble into psycho-biography, which might have been easy to do.
This is a lengthy "read" but very worth the amazing American history that it spands. AH was a complex man and the writer certainly doesn't attempt to cover his wrong-headed actions. Thomas Jefferson certainly holds a different place in my mind as one of the founding fathers. His slave owning was well know but his arrogance about that practice and his slander of AH as a royalist were a revelation to me. It is so well written and so well read that I couldn't wait to here the next chapter.
I think that Scott Brick has an Audible fan club. All of his books are read with easy clarity.
Long commute = Lots of time for audiobooks
Oh, how I love Scott Brick as a narrator. There's nothing more I can say, really. His pace, tone, and expression capture nonfiction pieces perfectly.
I discovered this book after reading Chernow's "Washington: A Life," and realizing that I was finding myself more and more fascinated by Washington's devoted and talented young protege, Alexander Hamilton. Imagine my delight when I found that Chernow had authored a biography on Hamilton as well.
All of America's founding fathers were brilliant, courageous, enterprising, and thoroughly flawed men. Chernow captures this balance perfectly in writing about both Washington and Hamilton.
Hamilton has become my favorite founder (because yes, as a history nerd, I do have a favorite). He was one of the only truly self-made men of the founders, and as an immigrant and illegitimate child, perfectly embodies what I believe has always been the American dream (however romantic and idealized the notion may be): the ability to come to this land and discover one's own greatness, regardless of one's humble beginnings. There is so much more to Hamilton's story besides his well-known duel with Aaron Burr, and Chernow captures every detail and paints the clearest picture of a man whose legacy lives on in so many parts of our lives today.
Lover of good ideas
If you want to understand a great statesman and intellectual giant in American history and also learn about the early history of our country and the men and woman who were a significant part of our country's history you will want to read Alexander Hamilton. You learn a lot of facts about the man and the period but more important, you come to understand the personalities and motivations of these great men and woman.
Make the time to listen to this masterpiece of literature.
This book is 36 hours long and worth every minute. Hamilton's fascinating life intersected with nearly everything in early American history, making this biography an excellent way of understanding that time period. He is portrayed admiringly, but his faults are acknowledged. And the book is filled with interesting events and people, not minute details. And the book is very much targeted at the modern, general reader; there are no "stuffy historian" pretenses. I recommend this title more highly than any other history book I've read or listened to.