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  • Alexander Hamilton

  • By: Ron Chernow
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 35 hrs and 58 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (249 ratings)

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Alexander Hamilton

By: Ron Chernow
Narrated by: Scott Brick
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Publisher's Summary

Alexander Hamilton was an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean who overcame all the odds to become George Washington's aide-de-camp and the first Treasury Secretary of the United States. Few figures in American history are more controversial.

In this masterful work, Chernow shows how the political and economic power of America today is the result of Hamilton's willingness to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. He charts his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Monroe and Burr; his highly public affair with Maria Reynolds; his loving marriage to his loyal wife Eliza; and the notorious duel with Aaron Burr that led to his death in July 1804.

The book was adapted into a hugely successful Broadway musical - winner of 11 Tony awards - which opens at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London in November 2017.

©2016 Head of Zeus (P)2004 Penguin Random House LLC

Critic Reviews

"A mammoth work of research that charted the course of Hamilton's dazzling career." ( Guardian)
"An elegantly written, richly detailed account of Hamilton's tempestuous life." ( The Times)
"A brilliant recreation of the society and culture of the time: thoughtful and playful, moving and powerful." (Michael Gove)

What listeners say about Alexander Hamilton

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Started reading due to the musical, stayed for the epic narrative

Wow, just wow! What began as a procrastination fuelled exploration of the character of Alexander Hamilton following my watching of the amazing Hamilton musical on Disney+ by Lin-Manuel Miranda et al, led to this 818 page/35hr and 58min behemoth of a book. As a testament to Lin-Manuel, I am unsure of how he exactly saw 'hip-hop flying from the page', however this masterful tour-de-force by Ron Chernow not only acts as a multi-faceted Hamilton biography, but also that of a history of the Revolutionary time period, trends in abolitionist thinking, political turmoil, and the stepping stones to the creation of modern financial system.

On the subject of Hamilton, his life and upbringing is almost too crazy to imagine. His brief life on earth acts in a way as both inspirational (in the sense of taking opportunities, his work ethic, his brilliant mind, the formation of institutions, his ability to utilise networks, and to some extent his ability to traverse the brouhaha of political life), and tacit warnings (consequences of over-argumentation, making enemies, that of personal finance, high-profile affairs and the handling of such things as the Reynolds Pamphlet and the Adams election). Interestingly, Chernow delivers just the right amount of historical explanation to the other members of this epic, including that of the relationship Hamilton had with the likes of Washington, Lafayette, and Jefferson.

Most interesting to me was the inclusion of the period of Yellow Fever pandemic within the newly founded USA (particularly reading this during the current COVID-19 pandemic), and how even in these times, doctors with political affiliations and politicians like Jefferson were able to turn treatment options (the Republican touted blood letting and vomit inducing methods against the newer supportive therapies touted as Federalist methods, which was used to save Hamilton) into political affairs.

Also pleasant to read was the contributions of the women in Hamilton's life, including that of Eliza who had tried to expunge herself from history as much as possible, but Chernow works in quite well throughout the story.

Most surprising was the indictments against the characters that history seem to revere so well: namely that of the then Republican faction instigators, the slave owning Jefferson and Maddison. Here were people who maligned Hamilton and his systems at every turn, pined for an America that was not industrial but rather rural, utilised new media at the time including faction aligned newspapers to run smear campaigns, and became ardent Francophiles (wishing for USA to enact the same) even in the midst of France at the time undergoing Robespierre's Reign of Terror and subsequent coup d'etat by dictator Napoleon. And of course, one cannot forget the care given to the explanation as to the motives and downfall of Hamilton's final opponent and fated dueller Aaron Burr.

My only qualm with the treatise is Chernow’s very occasional usage of hearsay (even if based in evidence) from supporters of Hamilton or detractors of Republicans, to move the story excitingly forward (more so ironic as many sections decry the vile rumours spread by Jefferson and similar ilk through both Hamilton’s life and post-death).

This does not detract however from this masterfully written tome on Hamilton’s life, which has acted not only as a compelling curiosity, but also as a historical self-help book of sorts. What was a brief sojourn for me would have been a multi-year project for Chernow, and for his insistence and scrutiny of the historical record I am deeply grateful. 5/5.

www.goodreads.com/sumudu_perera

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5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An almost unbelievable tale, brilliantly told.

After reading a review of the Broadway musical inspired by this mighty biography, I became an admirer of the soundtrack and resolved to read the source material at the earliest opportunity. It was some months before Chernow’s masterpiece came available on Audible and I sincerely thank those who worked to make that happen.
The book does not disappoint.
Running to some 36 hours, it is a thoroughly entertaining examination of the life, achievements and tragedy of one of the most important, and certainly the most unfairly maligned founding fathers.
Narration by Scott Brick is excellent. Most highly recommended... and be sure to listen to Hamilton: An American Musical.

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5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Hamilton. Not the musical.

As a Australian I had been aware of the successful musical about Alexander Hamilton.
I have no interest in seeing a performance, but I was fascinated that his life had inspired the writing of such a lauded stage show.
I looked for more information about Alexander Hamilton, and came across this biography, which none of my local libraries had.
I found here and have listened regularly through the last few weeks.
The story was remarkable, giving fascinating details not only about his life, but about many other significant figures of the time.
Top marks to the narrator for an outstanding job in telling the story

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3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The musical brought me here

I came to this book because I went to see the musical and had no idea what was going on. I decided (on a dare) to ride my stationary bike as I listened. 35 hours, 59 minutes later I came away with a much clearer understanding of history, interesting random facts (Peggy is such a badass woman! Washington’s hippo ivory false teeth! Hamilton being a complete douchecanoe with a 95 page confession of his affair (which I have bought and shall read next because scandal 🍿)! And my next audible of Eliza’s story, which I shall also ride to.

Oh and I cycled 1005.7km to it too.

I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who loved Hamilton, the musical.

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2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ian
  • 12-06-2023

Agree with all the positive reviews.

At 30+ hours for this book I had a go at speeding up the vocals to 1.2 speed. I have enjoyed Scott Brick’s reading on several books and felt the faster speed did not detract or ruin the quality of the read. Highly recommend this book.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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An epic story about an epically talented person.

Beautifully narrated, with perfect intonation, this is a really amazing story that, despite its length, will captivate you from start to finish.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Has everything you wanted to know - and many things you didn’t

36 hours is a major commitment. Ron has covered Hamilton’s life and the relevant history with fabulous detail. For my personal taste I could have done without much of the extraneous detail. If the book had been 20 hours I would have given it 5 stars

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  • fje
  • 05-04-2018

Fascinating and detailed biography of AH

Combines detailed analysis, a lot of primary evidence from letters to support his interpretations of events.
Narrator is very good, speaking eloquently with a range of expression which brings the work to life.
Probably my favourite listen in almost 3 years of audible. A long and satisfying listen.

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Not to be missed

For history lovers or fans of the Hamilton production, Chernow’s book is an essential digest. I bought the book but found the audio version more suitable to tell Hamilton’s story with dramatics and pomp befitting this historical character.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Not much has changed…

Embarrassed to say I came to this as I bought tickets to the musical, and knowing little about American history, thought I should learn enough to understand the plot.
It is a fabulous listen, and offers amazingly relevant context to the political environment in 2023 USA.

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