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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
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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.

4 people found this helpful

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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

2 people found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant

it was long but very informative on the American history at the time of Alexander Hamilton. Freat read for this non American.

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excellent

fddgg try eft dodgy eft edhgf edgy dfghg ddgg drug ffc dfgfff fdhhg sigg ffcdf

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interesting but dry

an interesting look at Hamilton's life but the majority of the book is very dry, could just be the narrator.
Also the end of the book seems to be incredibly biased against Burr which is somewhat understandable but some of it is crazy, for example the author seems to suggest that he thinks Burr's sexual appetite increased after he killed Hamilton with no proof other than having a relationship with a woman???? Also claiming Hamilton was 'a choir boy' compared to Burr because Hamilton only cheated on his pregnant wife FOR A YEAR whereas after Burr was widowed he had multiple relationships??????? weird take but sure

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Loved it..

Brilliantly composed, gripping with it drawing me back to it at every opportunity. Highly recommended.

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Excellent biography

An important accounting of the Founding Fathers of the USA. Politics hasn't changed!
Well read by the narrator.

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  • Mauricio Sillano
  • 20-04-2018

Excellent

Like him or not, the writing is flawless, research is comprehensive and tone is neutral enough. He’s not portrayed as a pure hero, and his character shows all the traits of a flawed but intense human.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Steven-Meyer
  • 21-07-2019

Incredibly well researched and articulated

As an Australian with zero knowledge of American history I found this book so interesting. Looking forward to seeing the musical on Broadway on our next visit.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Vanessa Visbal
  • 21-03-2019

A dream come true

Since I listened to the Hamilton: An American Musical OBC soundtrack I wanted to read it

1 person found this helpful

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  • David
  • 01-12-2020

Brilliant

An extraordinary man with common faults. Slanted? Sure (The demonization Jefferson and Madison). Was he the greatest of the Founding Fathers? Unquestionably.

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  • Kirstine
  • 09-08-2018

An amazing life

The fact that Hamilton's life can fill 36 hours of engaging and interesting description testifies to what an important figure he was in the birth and establishment of the United States of America. He was an inspiring and talented soldier and in peacetime instrumental in shaping the financial system of the fledgling country. So it all the more surprising that, while Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and Franklin are household names, Hamilton's is not. Maybe his early death and the fact that both Adams and Jefferson hated him and went out of their way to denigrate and slander him, often with false accusations to undermine his reputation, when he was alive and that continued after his death enabled them to airbrush Hamilton's contributions out of the historical record. I must say I was surprised by the waste of time and energy expended by the politicians by their internecine conflicts.
The book is not only a biography of this important figure but also an insight into how the USA shed the dominance of the Britain, developed their own political system and started to unpick dependence on slaves as cheap labour.

12 people found this helpful

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  • jacqueline bain
  • 03-01-2018

BrilliNT

Had no idea what to expect as I like very early history but an so glad I chose this as my first foray into US history. What's remarkable man! Even amongst that group of remarkable people and events, he stands a lot taller than his height. I have changed my opinion on many of the early presidential histories I had gleaned from other stories and documentaries. I would have liked to have met him... and I can't say that about many of the people I have read about. Narration second to none. Well worth the listen

21 people found this helpful

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  • Farniboy
  • 15-02-2018

Alexander Hamilton, his name is Alexander Hamilton

Like most people in the UK I'd never heard of Alexander Hamilton until the musical of his life began wowing audiences in the US. I only had to hear the title song (which strangely reveals the whole plot) , to want to know more about this pivotal figure of the American Revoution. I'm so glad that I did, Ron Chernow tells a superb tale. From Hamilton's boyhood in the West Indies, through the events of the revolutionary war, to the politics of the early republic and finally to a New Jersey duelling ground, the book moves at a fair clip. Some of The Federalist/Republican party civil war is a little dry but its a testament to Chernow's skill as a writer (and Scott Brick's fabulous narration!) that eventually I got the gist of what was going on.

Hamilton is a brilliant if flawed subject of a book. God only knows how Manuel Lin Miranda thought that this book would make a great musical but I'm glad that he did, or I would have never heard of Hamilton and the impact that he made on the world.

Highly recommended!

36 people found this helpful

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  • Celia
  • 23-05-2020

Interesting and long

I was not familiar with the history of Hamilton and was drawn to this since it is apparently the inspiration for Miranda's musical. It is detailed and meticulously researched, quoting from a wide range of sources: letters and publications by Hamilton and those around him, as well as other biographies. Hamilton is not deified, but I did feel that the author was biased at times. I noted particularly that all the women who had affairs with the protagonist and others were cast as either devious or loose, and that the men were often portrayed as the manipulated ones. I was also fascinated that the partisan nature of politics between the Republicans and the then Federalists started in the 1st government post the war of independence.

4 people found this helpful

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  • David W.
  • 09-02-2018

exceeds the musicial

when you hear the unabridged version of this book the musical pales in comparison. its gripping from beginning to end.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Rui Ribeiro
  • 28-06-2019

Another outstanding biography by Ron Chernow

I didn't know about Alexander Hamilton until I decided to buy this book. Bought it because it was authored by Ron Chernow, from whom I had read the excellent Ulysses S. Grant biography. As it turns out, the decision to buy this audiobook was a wise one. The book is well written, detailed, with a solid research and tells a thrilling, vivid and remarkable story of Alexander Hamilton, his life, his character and his remarkable contribution to the foundation of the USA and it's governing institutions.
Supported by an excellent narration, this is a strongly recommended book, one that brings the best of audiobooks, for an enjoyable listening experience.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 19-03-2019

Thorough history of the newly famous man

Amazing story well read. Some of the constitutional and economic detail area little heavy but still interesting.


3 people found this helpful

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  • MAGGS
  • 18-08-2018

Alexander Hamilton- Enjoyable but too long

Alexander Hamilton- Enjoyable but too long
Hamilton was an exception man & left an lasting legacy to US
Politicians then as now were corrupt able.
The press again still sprouts lies & not caring who got hurt.
GREAT NARRATION

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mr
  • 18-04-2018

Excellent

This is a truly captivating and moving story and a brilliant introduction to American revolutionary history

3 people found this helpful

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  • Tommy
  • 17-09-2018

A monumental biography

Ron Chernow's magnificent, monumental and lyrical biography of Alexander Hamilton is littered with great stories and wise insights. His biography of John D Rockefeller is equally good.

2 people found this helpful

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