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The inspiration for the hit Broadway musical Hamilton! In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, National Book Award winner Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is "a robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all." Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow's biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today's America is the result of Hamilton's countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. "To repudiate his legacy," Chernow writes, "is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world." Chernow here recounts Hamilton's turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washington's aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, coauthoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party, and becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States. Historians have long told the story of America's birth as the triumph of Jefferson's democratic ideals over the aristocratic intentions of Hamilton. Chernow presents an entirely different man, whose legendary ambitions were motivated not merely by self-interest but by passionate patriotism and a stubborn will to build the foundations of American prosperity and power. His is a Hamilton far more human than we've encountered before--from his shame about his birth to his fiery aspirations, from his intimate relationships with childhood friends to his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Monroe, and Burr, and from his highly public affair with Maria Reynolds to his loving marriage to his loyal wife Eliza. And never before has there been a more vivid account of Hamilton's famous and mysterious death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July of 1804. Chernow's biography is not just a portrait of Hamilton, but the story of America's birth seen through its most central figure. At a critical time to look back to our roots, Alexander Hamilton will remind readers of the purpose of our institutions and our heritage as Americans. Ron Chernow's new biography, Grant, will be published by Penguin Press in October 2017.
A collection of essays on various aspects of Hamilton's life and legacy.
Revolutionary War officer, co-author of the Federalist Papers, our first Treasury Secretary, Thomas Jefferson’s nemesis, and victim of a fatal duel with Aaron Burr: Alexander Hamilton has been the focus of debate from his day to ours. On the one hand, Hamilton was the quintessential Founding Father, playing a central role in every key debate and event in the Revolutionary and Early Republic eras. On the other hand, he has received far less popular and scholarly attention than his brethren. Who was he really and what is his legacy? Scholars have long disagreed. Was Hamilton a closet monarchist or a sincere republican? A victim of partisan politics or one of its most active promoters? A lackey for British interests or a foreign policy mastermind? The Many Faces of Alexander Hamilton addresses these and other perennial questions. Leading Hamilton scholars, both historians and political scientists alike, present fresh evidence and new, sometimes competing, interpretations of the man, his thought, and the legacy he has had on America and the world.
Of all of the Founding Fathers of the American republic none, with the possible exception of Thomas Jefferson, has evoked more passions and aroused more controversy than Alexander Hamilton. In this absorbing new biography, eminent historian Lawrence Kaplan examines Hamilton's conception of America's role in the world and the foreign policies that followed from his vision. Kaplan looks at how Hamilton acted upon his views in shaping the course of American foreign relations. The author provides a focused, accessible biography of Hamilton and a nuanced assessment of his impact on Federalist Era foreign policy. In the Jefferson-Jackson era Hamilton's persona as an elitist urban aristocrat condemned him as an enemy of an expanding democratic America-an Anglophile at a time when Great Britain was the major adversary. Such was his reputation as an enemy of the common man that his deep-seated opposition to the institution of slavery won little recognition from northern abolitionists. This book will fascinate readers with its insights into Hamilton and the formative years of the United States of America.
In the first full, one-volume biography of Alexander Hamilton in more than two decades, award-winning historian Willard Sterne Randall takes a fresh look at one of the most brilliant, conflicted, and elusive of our nations founders. Orphaned at thirteen and apprenticed in a counting house, the precocious Hamilton learned principles of business that helped him, as the first U.S. secretary of the treasury, to create the American banking system and invent the modern corporation. But first the staunch, intrepid Hamilton served in the American Revolution, primarily as aide-de-camp to General Washington, acting as Washingtons spymaster. Forging a successful legal career, Hamilton coauthored The Federalist Papers and plunged into politics. Irresistibly attractive to women, he was a man of many gifts, but he could be arrogant and was at times a poor judge of character. In this meticulously researched, illuminating, and lively account, Willard Sterne Randall mines the latest scholarship to provide a new perspective on Alexander Hamilton, his illegitimate birth, little-known military activities, political and diplomatic intrigues, and sometimes scandalous private life. From his less than auspicious start in 1755 on the Caribbean island of Nevis to his untimely death in a duel with his old enemy Aaron Burr in 1804, Alexander Hamilton, despite his short and tragic life, left a huge legacy.