Alexander Hamilton

Narrated by: Grover Gardner
Length: 11 hrs and 51 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (985 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times best seller, 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.

In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, 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 listeners of the purpose of our institutions and our heritage as Americans.

“Nobody has captured Hamilton better than Chernow” (The New York Times Book Review)

Ron Chernow's other biographies include: Grant, Washington, and Titan

©2004 Ron Chernow (P)2004 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

 George Washington Book Prize Winner, 2005

"Comprehensive and superbly written." (Booklist)
"This is a fine work that captures Hamilton's life with judiciousness and verve." (Publishers Weekly)
"Literate and full of engaging historical asides. By far the best of the many lives of Hamilton now in print." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Scott Brick delivers a highly professional, straightforward narration that holds one's interest throughout. Straight narrative can become boring, and Brick is never that. Nor does he become lazy in the course of 36 hours. His voice and evident interest are fresh throughout." (AudioFile

What listeners say about Alexander Hamilton

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Abridged history

If you are serious about listening to this book do not buy the abridged version. Uneven gaps and movements to highlights without history or background.

The narration is good, even captivating, but getting the abridged version is like history by Disney....skip it...

70 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Ranks with the best in biographies

Ron Chernow has a masterpiece in this book -- easily on the level of "John Adams", "The First American", "Theodore Rex" and "His Excellency". Also a great primer on the foundations of our modern banking system while capturing the heart of the (surprisingly) conflicted principles that our nation is founded upon. Academic history books sometimes lead us to believe that the founding fathers were strongly united in their views and that the development of the nation was internally unified while facing external pressures. This book helps one to understand the philosophical divisions that existed and the angst and politicking that occurred in founding the United States. Great book!

7 people found this helpful

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Abridged Version

Great book and barely noticed it was abridged. Plenty of detail and clean transitions. Hamilton!

5 people found this helpful

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Alexander Hamilton

I enjoyed the abridged copy. The narrator was excellent. It gave me an overview of Hamilton and the early founders of our great country. I would certainly recommend it.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The forgotten one

This is truly a must read for those who have enjoyed other books about the early period of American history (1776, John Adams, etc.) With all of the deference paid to the likes of Washington, Adams, Franklin, and Jefferson, Chernow's portrayal of Hamilton as the chief architect of the American government helps to shed additional light on the events of the period. Chernow effectively casts Hamilton as a boy-genius who single-handedly polarizes the infant political climate of the United States, but also builds the framework for America's future economic dominance. The book is certainly pro-Hamilton, but it is a fair balance to the pro-Adams and pro-Jefferson literature that portrays Hamilton to be the villain of the times. A truly informative and provocative read.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

don't miss this

When it came out, everyone was talking about this book and now I know why. Wow. Chernow covers his subject with a masterful comprehension and depth that gives the listener a very interesting window into the world of the Founders, always with Hamilton at the center. The book is fascinating (and well read). From Hamilton's unusual boyhood in the carribean to his stellar rise during the revolution, to his pivotol role in the development of the fundamental features of our government structure, it more than held my interest. Hamilton is an extraordinary character -- a unique genius -- and Chernow resurrects him in all his glory, and not without attention to his flaws. I learned more about our history from this book than from any other book I have read. Most interesting is Hamilton's preescience. So many of his ideas anticipated current events. Also, Chernow clearly grew to love and feel protective of his subject who has been so neglected in history until now. I admit that around hour 29, I started to feel shades of "The Power Broker" -- a pattern of Hamiltonian behavior repeated over and over. But I highly, highly, recommend.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

secret genius

This is an extraordinary book on revolutionary times about the most obscure of the founding fathers. Extremely well told, it reveals many of the complexities of early American history that were left out of books like "His Excellency", "John Adams", "Founding brothers". Hamilton comes out as a marvellously complex character and a true genius. The personal stories are as lively as any told - the characters are fascinating, life-like and complex, the political landscape more vivid than in any other history of that time. The expositions on the Federalists Papers, the founding of the Treasury, slavery and States Rights are illustrated with vivid accounts of warring rivals and tales of betrayal that are every bit as intense as the scenes surrounding the Terry Schiavo case, but less terrifying because at least those debates are behind us, even though it sometimes took a duel to the death. All so relevant to many of today's central political issues.

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Rating system flawed

I was not allowed to rate this book with five stars. When I repeatedly touched the fifth star, it would not accept my input.

2 people found this helpful

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Fascinating story, wonderfully read

I listened to Chernow's book in preparation for seeing the stage production of "Hamilton" (which was wonderful, by the way). Alexander Hamilton had an amazing life, especially interesting as his career and family life arced upward. I learned so much about the man and the revolutionary era and the start of the American republic. Gardner brought it all to life and his reading was very clear, easy to follow and enjoyable. The book has a few points where the details of various financial transactions gets a little complicated to follow, but those points are also very illuminating about Hamilton's genius building the financial foundation of the United States. Highly recommended listening.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Interesting & accessable - well read.

The story was interesting and engaging. The narrator an easy listen. Having just finished Chernow's biography of George Washington, I feel like I know the personality and character of these two men - the original Federalists.

1 person found this helpful