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Friday, May 11, 2018

Alexander Hamilton

It was pretty inevitable that I would get around to reading the biography of Alexander Hamilton.  While Hamilton has always been a recognizable name, the average American didn't know much about him.  A study conducted in May 2015 found that 71% of the U.S. residents sampled thought that Hamilton was a U.S. President (spoiler: he wasn't) and those responding rated their confidence in this at over 80%.  When writing his book, Ron Chernow could not have had any idea that his book would inspire a musical that would cause Hamilton's popularity to surge as never before.

I enjoyed reading the book.  He generally guides the reader through Hamilton's life in an interesting way.  I think the author is a little too enamored with Hamilton to be completely objective, but he certainly includes Hamilton's stubbornness and lapses in judgment that marred his reputation and ultimately cost him his life.  Hamilton's life certainly lends itself to an interesting story.  He was one of the original and best examples of the American dream.  Born with nothing, he was instrumental in getting the Constitution ratified and became the first Secretary of the Treasury, where he single-handedly created our financial system from scratch.  He also made some really stupid decisions that keep things interesting.  Like pretty much every book I've read about America's founding, I like Jefferson even less than I did before.

I'd recommend the book to anyone who likes historical biographies or is looking to get some more detail behind those raps from the musical that they love so much.

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