Children's Literature"Leaders of the American Revolution," a biographical series from Chelsea House, should certainly include the life of Hamilton, a brilliant man not well-enough known to many Americans. His most important work was concerned with finance, a subject hardly understood by students, making it difficult to produce a lively and readable biography for young readers. Visually, the title is not especially appealing, with large print, few pictures of interest, and simple, often repetitive, sentences. A personal life so full of incident and so much intellectual activity must necessarily be condensed for this space, making the text too often a quickly passing parade of dates, names, and places (here some maps would be helpful). McNeese has relied heavily on Ron Chernow's outstanding adult biography, including extra material on interposed pages of a different color, presumably to provide some visual relief from the monotony of the chapters' format. In general, the information is reliable, although the author falls into the trap of repeating the story (ably refuted in Fischer's Washington's Crossing) about Hessians being drunk when Washington crossed the Delaware. To his credit, McNeese includes the unflattering story of Hamilton's affair with Maria Reynolds. Quizzes on details at the end of each chapter are not very useful; teachers could do better themselves. If readers have enough interest in Hamilton to pick up the book, they will gain some idea of his unique contributions to our nation, but the book's format and style may seem forbidding to those not already motivated. 2006, Chelsea House, Ages 12 to 16.
Barbara L. Talcroft