Friday, January 8, 2016

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Alexander Hamilton’s name has been appearing in the news for the first time in centuries with the talk of the hit Broadway musical based on his life. And this is the book that sparked it all. Aside from Broadway fans, this book may spark the curiosity of readers interested in American history. The award-winning book, Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, is a detailed biography of Hamilton and tells us much more than the one fact we all know about him: he was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr. Hamilton was a brilliant thinker and gifted organizer. An illegitimate child, orphaned before he reached his teens, Hamilton used his intelligence and abilities to make his way from St. Kitts island in the Caribbean to King’s College in New York. While there he embraced the cause of the American Revolution and became an invaluable aide to General George Washington. After the war, he was a primary writer of the Federalist Papers, defending the newly written Constitution. He was the first Secretary of the Treasury and established policies that secured the new nation’s economic security. A forward thinking man, he staunchly believed in abolition and philanthropy. He feuded with other patriots (John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, among others) on the direction the country should take.      
He had, of course, his weaknesses, one of which proved to be fatal. Although devoted to his wife and large family, he had an affair with a married woman and paid blackmail to her husband. This information was eventually leaked to the public in a campaign of slander and dirty tricks aimed at destroying Hamilton’s reputation. It ultimately led to Hamilton’s famous and fatal duel with Aaron Burr.         

Alexander Hamilton is admittedly a daunting read at over 700 pages. But Hamilton did so much in his short life, this is the book he deserves.