Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton

by Ron Chernow


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143034759
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/28/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 832
Sales rank: 453
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.80(d)
Lexile: 1280L (what's this?)

About the Author

Ron Chernow won the National Book Award in 1990 for his first book, The House of Morgan, and his second book, The Warburgs, won the Eccles Prize as the Best Business Book of 1993. His biography of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., Titan, was a national bestseller and a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist.


Brooklyn, NY

Date of Birth:

March 3, 1949

Place of Birth:

Brooklyn, NY


Yale University; Cambridge University

Read an Excerpt

On the night of April 18, 1775, 800 British troops marched out of Boston to capture Samuel Adams and John Hancock and seize a stockpile of patriot munitions in Concord, Massachusetts. As they passed Lexington, they encountered a motley battalion of militia farmers known as Minutemen, and in the ensuing exchange of gunfire the British killed 8 colonists and then 2 more in Concord. As the redcoats retreated helter-skelter to Boston, they were riddled by sniper fire that erupted from behind hedges, stone walls, and fences, leaving a bloody trail of 273 British casualties versus 95 dead or wounded for the patriots.

Excerpted from "Alexander Hamilton"
by .
Copyright © 2005 Ron Chernow.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Author's Note

Prologue: The Oldest Revolutionary War Widow
Acknowledgments Notes Bibliography Selected Books, Pamphlets, and Dissertations Selected Articles Index

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"...[N]obody has captured Hamilton better than Chernow..." —The New York Times Book Review

"...[A] biography commensurate with Hamilton's character, as well as the full, complex context of his unflaggingly active life.... This is a fine work that captures Hamilton's life with judiciousness and verve." —Publishers Weekly

"A splendid life of an enlightened reactionary and forgotten Founding Father. Literate and full of engaging historical asides. By far the best of the many lives of Hamilton now in print, and a model of the biographer’s art."—Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

"A robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all." —Joseph J. Ellis, author of Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

"A brilliant historian has done it again! The thoroughness and integrity of Ron Chernow’s research shines forth on every page of his Alexander Hamilton. He has created a vivid and compelling portrait of a remarkable man—and at the same time he has made a monumental contribution to our understanding of the beginnings of the American Republic.” —Robert A. Caro, author of The Power Broker and The Years of Lyndon Johnson

"Alexander Hamilton was one of the most brilliant men of his brilliant time, and one of the most fascinating figures in all of American history. His rocketing life-story is utterly amazing. His importance to the founding of the new nation, and thus to the whole course of American history, can hardly be overstated. And so Ron Chernow's new Hamilton could not be more welcome. This is grand-scale biography at its best—thorough, insightful, consistently fair, and superbly written. It clears away more than a few shop-worn misconceptions about Hamilton, gives credit where credit is due, and is both clear-eyed and understanding about its very human subject. Its numerous portraits of the complex, often conflicting cast of characters are deft and telling. The whole life and times are here in a genuinely great book." —David McCullough, author of John Adams

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Alexander Hamilton 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 161 reviews.
jjricochet More than 1 year ago
Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow, published in April of 2004, is by far the most engaging and informative biography of any founding father I have ever read. Irrespective of your knowledge regarding Alexander Hamilton's life story, this remarkable book reads like a classic novel and is virtually impossible to place mark, I could not put it down. Cernow brilliantly raises Hamilton from the grave, as if you were present at Hamilton's very conception as well as his premature death at the hand of his antithesis, Aaron Burr, the once Vice President of Thomas Jefferson. The bastard child of a tenacious woman of questionable character for her time, the sparks of Alexander Hamilton's genius became evident to his earliest benefactor when as a boy his first poem was published, to the brain trust of George Washington, in war and throughout Washington's entire administration. In addition to his sense of honor, generosity, successes, failings and tragedies, Ron Chernow's biographical masterpiece expresses Hamilton's great passions, glory, pride, genius, vision, devotion and love of family and of his adopted nation, America. This book is so truthful that it will enthrall and provoke within you a gamut of emotions and enlighten you beyond measure. James J Reis
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ron Chernow provides a well-reasearched and vivid picture into Hamilton's life. The man is often overlooked and overshadowed by the accomplishments of other founders such as Jefferson. This book tells Hamilton's life story as an immigrant from the West Indies. He was one fo the first to acheive what we now consider the American dream. Hamilton almost single handledly formed the treasury as well as the Bank of the United states despite obection from political enemies. Hamilton was arguably the most brilliant founder and this book is arguably the best biography on him. The downside with this is the length, about 731 pages(not including index, references, etc). It also is rather negative towards other political figures. Madison seems almost traitorous, Washington aloof, Adams crazy, Burr conniving. etc On Hamilton himself though, no other biography is better. Highly reccomended!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Outstanding. I really did not know too much about Hamilton. However, Mr. Chernow's book was fascinating. I could not put it down. Even after I had finished the book, I could not stop thinking about the role Alexander Hamilton played in the history of the country. Hamilton was brilliant. And Aaron Burr was a scoundrel. This should be a recommended book for all students who are studying history and the politics of the USA.
WaldoRWE More than 1 year ago
I haves always admired Hamilton. Thanks to Ron Chernow I know why. Excellent!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read a lot of American history and yet this book told me tons that I never knew about Alexander Hamilton. Like everyone, he was far from perfect but he was a great patriot. Rising from humble beginnings in the West Indies, he was George Washington's right-hand man for most of the Revolutionary War. He was also Washington's most important and influential Cabinet member. Amazing descriptions of how he set up the US Treasury Dept. and got the American economy on a stable footing. Terrific book. Rather long (over 700 pages) but fascinating reading for people who really love American history. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In many ways, Hamilton was a force of nature. He accomplishments were prodigious. Like a Greek tragedy, his life a doomed to end too early.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could hardly put the book down. He was an amazing man. His life was one of total dedication to the American way of life as we now know it. It is right that his portrait be on our ten dollar bill. In my estiamton he ranks among the top five greatest men in America. If you are inclined to read about the America Revolution and its time frame, don't pass up the opportunity to get this book and read it. In our libray system in our state we have the unabridged book on tape of this man. I have listened to it twice. It has twenty nine CD'd. What an amzsing man. Once you have read it you may well feel the way I do.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dear Mr. Chernow, Thank you for writing this book because without it there would be no Hamilton on Broadway and I would actually be doing my homework right now instead of fangirling. I love Lin and you are amazing. I want to play Eliza or Peggy/Maria. Sincerely, Hamilton and Overall Theatre Nerd and Fangirl
FlyerFan More than 1 year ago
I am 300+ pages into this book and to say it is a page turner is an understatement!! all I want to do is read read read....I love it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thanks to an opera about Hamilton inspired by this book, I undertook this reading. Though it dragged a bit about the 500's, I plowed on and was rewarded by this exhaustive biography. If you like to read about unsung heroes, this book is for you. Now in the autumn of my life, I am pleased to have set the record straight on this early hero of our country.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I knew little about Alexander Hamilton before buying this stellar biography. Now I have such admiration and respect for the man, even with his failings. Fascinating reading from beginning to end, due in equal parts to the subject and Ron Chernow's excellent prose.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hamilton was a genius, but this book made him sound infallible. Even a genius can make a mistake, and he made the ultimate one that unfortunately cost him dearly. Men labeled as Republicans which we know was not established until mid 19th century. If not known, i would say this book was written by Alexander Hamilton himself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written, reads like fiction, meticulouly researched and even handed. A great complement to his Washington biography.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the book that inspired Lin manuel Miranda to write the broadway musical Hamilton which is #1 on broadway right now ahhhh Lin Manuel Miranda read this exact book ahhh want to read it so badly
MerleF More than 1 year ago
Magnificently detailed biography about major figure in early American history. I learned many facts and much background that I (a history major!) had not known or appreciated before. The book shows thorough research and is well indexed. Only "fault" might be that there are just a few too many detailed lists of people attending this or that meeting, etc. Well worth while reading for serious students of history!
soloprate More than 1 year ago
Awesome, great writing. i was drawn into the life of Hamilton
kkid1 More than 1 year ago
It took me quite a while to read this novel only because I needed to review what I had already read to be certain I missed no detail. Mr Chernow did a most excellent job of telling the story of the what I believe to be the most influential of the founding fathers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read biographies on all the Founding Fathers but none so good as this one. It is full of insights and stories, not just about Hamilton, but the rest of his compatriots as well. We see the greatness of Washington and the cowardice of Jefferson. The fight between Federalists and Republicans is brought vividly to life. Most of all, however, we see the genius and vulnerability of Hamilton. We get to feel his frustrations and pain and glimpse at his towering genius. I have not stopped thinking about this book in the two weeks since I finished it. I found myself staring at his image on the book's cover, amazed at what I had just read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An excellent book, full of interesting information on Hamilton and the times. However, it was a bit long.
CritEER on LibraryThing 21 days ago
- 2005 Honorable Mention Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award (recognizes books of exceptional merit written on the Revolutionary War era)- A.H. life story is off the chart given his accomplishments- The best biography on any individual I have read- None of the founding fathers had such a varied, historic and interesting life- Huge war hero...raised his own militia, drilling them and once winning their loyalty was selected as commander; later Chief of Staff for Gen George Washington; and lastly selected for field command at Yorktown- As Chief of Staff, drafted many of Gen G.W orders and sent frequently to negotiate with general officers (Gen Gates felt insulted to be directed by A.H.)- Delegate to Constitution Convention and a huge promoter of the proposed constitution- Took the lead in writing the Federalist Papers, essays/arguments/defense for the constitution that influenced states to ratify constitution- As first Secretary of Treasury led the financial revolution that would establish the new nation into a world economic power (1) pushed to have the Federal government assume state debts incurred during the revolution (2) prepared a Report on Manufactures, President G.W. and A.H. aim was to have government invigorate manufacturing activity (3) founded the First National Band and the U.S. Coast Guard with the aim to collect US tariffs/duties/excise taxes- A.H. financial revolution provided financial stability and investor confidence when it was not present before. Had to fight Jefferson/Madison concerns that the Federal government was growing to strong and the conflict that the US was moving from a nation of farmers to an industrial future
JBD1 on LibraryThing 21 days ago
My favorite Hamilton bio. Well-written, well-researched, extensive but very readable.
DonSiano on LibraryThing 21 days ago
This is a definitive biography of Alexander Hamilton, who was one of the founders of our great nation, and a most fascinating man he was. His accomplishments were great, and the story of his life cannot help but be instructive to devotees of "The Daily Show" which captures the caliber of our current crop of politicos so well. It would be a terrific class assignment for an undergraduate to "compare and contrast" Hamilton's writings with those of a Bush or a Kerry, a Kennedy or a Clinton. It would make them tremble for our political system, that currently throws up such clowns and showmen into the public space instead of statesmen and accomplished men such as Hamilton, Washington and Jefferson. Hamilton never had a speechwriter---indeed he wrote much of Washington's famed farewell address. Hamilton never had a ghostwriter--he wrote most of the Federalist Papers himself in a mere seven months. His output was prodigious, and his role in getting the Constitution ratified unmatched by any man. He never went to Yale. His dad never amounted to much. His physical courage was displayed for all to see in the battles he fought during the revolution, and in his final confrontation with Burr. Not for him a hide-out in the National Guard, nor did he fight in an unjust war. A man of honor, clearly a doer and a thinker, a principled man, a genius. Chernow's tome tells the story with eloquence and scholarship, in a lively way that rarely bogs down in tedious detail. Not without some shortcomings, though. His research into Hamilton's childhood and his forebears was, I thought, a bit too detailed. The endless recounting of the scurrilous attacks on Hamilton's background and character by relative non-entities are over-emphasized, but in a world that mostly associates in its mind Jefferson with Sally Hemmings, this is only to be expected, I suppose. Likewise for Hamilton's encounter with a pair of blackmailers. I'd rather that Chernow had spent as much effort on the ideas contained in the Federalist Papers, which I felt were, as Hamilton's crowning achievement, somewhat slighted. In spite of all this, this book is really a wonder, and will reward any sentient American, even those who mostly get their political instruction from such comedians that inhabit our political space as John Stewart, Jay Lenno, and Dan Rather.
gabri71685 on LibraryThing 21 days ago
Outstanding biography by Chernow of one of the most talented and intriguing Founding Fathers of America!
LindaLGraham on LibraryThing 29 days ago
I found myself wishing I could give this book more than five stars. It's been on my shelf for years, but I finally picked it up to read last summer. A biography of the first Secretary of the Treasury, the man credited with shaping this country¿s financial system ¿ yawn. I expected something dry, something that would be a struggle to get through. Instead, I can¿t say enough about how much I enjoyed it. I was hooked from the first sentence: ¿In the early 1850s, few pedestrians strolling past the house on H Street in Washington, near the White House, realized that the ancient widow seated by the window, knitting and arranging flowers, was the last surviving link to the glory days of the early republic.¿ No matter what one¿s politics, there¿s no denying Hamilton was a genius. True, one can argue the book is slanted pro-Hamilton, however Chernow seems to have plenty of facts to back up his deductions. If you¿re at all interested in America¿s early politics, read it; you won¿t be disappointed.
zen_923 on LibraryThing 29 days ago
What I really love about this book is that it is well-written. The author was able to present the events in Alexander Hamilton's life in a manner that excites the reader. The author was able to effectively impress upon the reader the hardships that he faced throughout his life and how he overcame them through sheer force of will. The author was also able to give us a unique insight in Hamilton's mind through his letters especially on the days before the infamous duel. The only comment I have for this biography, is that throughout the book, the author seems to transform from a neutral observer into an apologist defending Hamilton's worst mistakes. Overall however, I love this biography of Alexander Hamilton and I highly recommend it.