As a student of History and Government, and someone who aspires in the very near future to teach those subjects, Hamilton has been nearly inescapable for all the right reasons. From the amazing musical and Mixtape to a flurry of books reexamining the Founding Father, the first Secretary of the Treasury, Revolutionary War Hero and Founding Father has scarcely enjoyed this much fame since his untimely death in 1804.
So after obsessing over the musical and mixtape, buying the merchandise and using lines from songs in everyday conversations, I decided I ought to start reading the book that inspired Lin Manuel Miranda’s musical. Alexander Hamilton by Rob Chernow is absolutely a fantastic read, and though a historical text, reads like an epic drama. This work also feels strangely new, due to the under appreciation of Hamilton in previous years.
Ask people to tell you about Hamilton and they will likely remember two facts: he graces the $10 bill and he was killed in a duel. This erases the monumental impact that Hamilton had on the country, the Constitution and the first administration of the United States. It also erases the fact that the man who killed hamilton was the sitting Vice President of the United States.
Chernow’s work is extraordinary. It is well researched and offers tantalizing glimpses into a truly extraordinary mind. Chernow captures the complexity of a man who disagreed with the Constitution, yet became one of its own ardent supporters; the man who was a consummate family man, yet also the first American politician in a high profile sex scandal; a man with limitless optimism about America and a deep abiding skepticism of Americans.
Hamilton is a masterclass at blending what can be at times dense historical materials with the fervent excitement of am HBO miniseries. With various asides that add richness and complexity, Chernow lays out a history not just of one man, but of a time period. While Hamilton’s voice was long forgotten, his impact has transcended through the ages. Hamilton’s mind was able to glimpse the very heart of the American modern state.
I cannot recommend this book enough to those interested in America, history and law. Chernow lays out a compelling case of a man, and a force that covered America and more than any other Founding Father captured the complexity of America today. Pick up a copy now!