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Alexander Hamilton

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  20,451 ratings  ·  729 reviews
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow presents a landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation.

A New York Times Bestseller

In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scan
Paperback, 818 pages
Published March 29th 2005 by Penguin Books (first published April 26th 2004)
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Jason Koivu
Hamilton's ability to rise above a bastard's upbringing and his unsure beginnings to one of the highest offices of the US is one of those "American dream" stories that our forefathers built the cliche upon.

Chernow handles the material, lived-out so many years ago, with a deft hand, keeping my interest even through the parts I would normally find boring, such as the country's financial structuring which Hamilton masterminded. Of course, it is Hamilton's battle of wits with Thomas Jefferson (and
Mike Mcfarland
Nov 19, 2007 Mike Mcfarland rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the early days of the Republic.
Alexander Hamilton will make you feel bad about yourself. When he was about 19 years old, he had not only graduated from Columbia University, he was also George Washington's aide-de-camp. When he was about 30, he was already one of the most successful lawyers in New York, he was responsible for writing the U.S. Constitution, and was in the process of building the U.S. Treasury Department from nothing. He was a genuinely brilliant and astonishing man.

But, he was also a very difficult man, and tha
Jun 20, 2007 Joseph rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Students of History who want to learn the truth
I don't know that I have ever read a single book that so changed my perception of history. The Author is able to truly show the brilliance and importance of Hamilton's contribution to our government.
I have always had the mistaken perception that Hamilton was a hinderance to free Government and that it was Jefferson and Monroe that were the true authors. I learned that I could not have been more mistaken. Hamilton was a man of sheer genius. Raising from obscurity to being the founder of the basic
"I heal all wounds but those which love hath made."
- Inscription on an envelope to Eliza Hamilton from her husband Alexander.


I have read many political biographies in my 41 years, but few better. Chernow is able to walk that narrow, tricky trail between scholarship and narrative storytelling without tripping over hagiography. He presents the largeness and improbableness of Alexander Hamilton without leaving out Hamilton's excesses and flights of paranoia and inflexibility. I think Chernow gets i
Apr 10, 2008 Chab rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all patriots.
Shelves: history, biography
As I have grown older, -I must confess.- my opinion of Thomas Jefferson has changed radically. I still grant him enormous credit as an architect, inventor, and prose stylist; however, I have become more and more estranged from his politics and methods. And I must confess again that this most excellent biography of Alexander Hamilton has only served to harden my revised opinion of Jefferson and the political Jeffersonians.

I approached this book knowing only the current mythological cant concernin
This is an exhaustive work that took me quite a while to complete. I knew very little about Alexander Hamilton when I visited Nevis a few years ago and saw signs to his birthplace. Nevis is quite proud of this fact, as they should be. His birthplace is basically in ruins, a stone shack overrun with chickens and goats. Nothing more. Just a sign. The circumstances of his birth, his early life, his mother's imprisonment for alleged adultery, his father's descent into alcoholism and his ultimate ab ...more
This book was really interesing! The only reason I was reading it was because I was researching on the creation of stocks, but once I started reading I enjoyed the book. This book is not like other biography books I've seen of our founding fathers. The book showed his personal life, and how his wife and him loved each other. This book was also really detailed, the author even mention about Hamilton's wife pregnancy. His wife even create a statue for him after his death. The part I found most int ...more
When I read a book about a great person I look to find out what made the guy or girl tick, what drove him and what did he do in order to reach his goal. Ron Chernow ,in this great detailed book, answers some of these questions. For example, why is Hamilton against an agrarian economy that Jefferson supports? The answer lies in the fact that he grew up on a farm-rich Caribbean island and yet it was so poor a country.

I get to the end of the book where he is killed in his duel with Burr and unexpe
“..greed can corrupt a state and that a public official who betrays his trust “ought to feel the utmost rigor of public resentment and be detested as a traitor of the worst and most dangerous kind.””

“..paper currency issued by the Continental Congress continued to sink precipitously in value..” “During one ghastly period in 1779, the continental dollar shed half its value in three weeks.”

“The 1792 financial panic came on the heels of……”

A letter from Wolcott.. “The public affairs are certainly in
What an incredible book; I can easily say that Alexander Hamilton slides into the short list of my all time favorites. Chernow paints a vivid picture of our most misunderstood founding father. I admit, I'm biased- as a fan of economics, learning more about the foundations Hamilton laid has been a treat. Even beyond this, however, the life of Hamilton was as colorful and interesting as it was busy. The exhaustive detail of Chernow's research allows for a three dimensional portrait of Hamilton as ...more
Continuing on with my American Revolution/colonial America reading, I eagerly delved into Alexander Hamilton. I had already read Chernow’s Washington: a Life and deemed it the best biography I’ve ever read.

Alexander Hamilton started out meeting all my expectations. Chernow’s excellent research and depth in reporting the events surrounding Hamilton’s life established a terrific launching point and I was completely engrossed.

Here’s what I loved about the book: Additional details about the revoluti
Now that I have spent the last several weeks with General Hamilton, pouring over all of his extensive accomplishments, and all his amazing writings that are encapsulated within this mammoth tome, I must admit to a very palpable sorrow here, at the very end. Of course, I knew how it ended-we all know how it ends-with Hamilton cut down by a bullet from the sitting Vice President of the United States; even still, I wasn't prepared for how heartbreaking an end it truly was. Like McCullough's John Ad ...more
This is an exhaustively researched, authoritatively written life of the person Ron Chernow calls the foremost American political figure who never attained the presidency (I'd suggest Benjamin Franklin also to share this distinction, if you were discussing Founding Fathers in general; while Hamilton was disqualified for having been born at Nevis, in the Caribbean, Franklin was elderly by the time of the first U.S. Presidential term. I know, this is splitting hairs. Franklin died in 1790, the year ...more
Dec 12, 2007 Michael rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in whether our Founding Fathers were aliens
Shelves: alive
in bios, often the velocity depends on the subject's life. Hamilton had the life: born into a mysterious and adulterous Caribbean family, miraculously makes it out to King's College in NY, and then on to be an aid-de-camp to Washington during the Revolution. from there he marries well, sleeps around, gleefully picks enemies, authors The Federalist Papers, more or less creates our Constitution, our financial system, duels poorly with another of the Founding Fathers.

but for some reason, the book w
Jan 03, 2008 Dylan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
Alexander Hamilton, as our high school history textbooks neglect to tell us, was in fact as important a founder as Washington. Indeed, without Hamilton one could easily argue that Washington's presidency and the birth of the union would not have been so successful. Yes, without the loans Adams procured from Holland the revolution would have been in dire shape; without Franklin in France Yorktown may never have happened; and without Madison's instrumental politic intelligence in 1787 there may ha ...more
Sarah Finch
Like he did for John D. Rockefeller in "Titan", Ron Chernow takes a complex, brilliant, vilified, near-deified, and contradictory man and manages to make sense of a life that seems too dramatic to possibly be true. One reason I loved this book -- when I first read it in 2006 and again this summer -- is that it is extremely lucid when it comes to the economic and fiscal policies Hamilton devised for early American government. As that area of expertise is hardly my strong suit, I greatly appreciat ...more
This review is based on the audio download from []

Narrated by: Scott Brick

My Hamilton (as his wife called him), you are a great American! What a life and what an influence this foreign-born patriot had upon our fledgling nation.

I learned so much from this book from his positive relationship with Washington to how vehemently he was despised by Adams, Jefferson and his lackey, Madison.

How he was able to accomplish so much before his early (and IMHO, premeditated) death at the
This is the biography of Alexander Hamilton that needed to be written. Chuck out that image of Hamilton that's been handed down to you by his political enemies; this is the real man. Chernow - who is one of those dry, subtly sarcastic historians who always write the best books - gives the reader a thorough and perceptive analysis that vindicates Hamilton's genius, patriotism, professional integrity, and his lasting impact on American politics and economics. (Sounds boring, but flip through your ...more
Aaron Crofut
This book has left me so in awe of Alexander Hamilton that I am looking forward to another book, Jefferson and Hamilton by John Ferling, to see if some balance isn't required. Such a balance could only serve to undermine his magnanimity; Hamilton's achievements presented in this work cannot be discounted. Born into virtual nothingness on some backwater Caribbean slave island, Hamilton rose to become arguably the most powerful man in America. An outstanding and driven student, he both pushed for ...more
Brian Leach
Alexander Hamilton must easily be the most misunderstood of the founding fathers. Before reading this book, I had a minimal understanding of the man - recalling merely that he was responsible for the first national bank and that he was a "monarchist." After reading this book, I have come to understand that Hamilton was a prodigiously gifted man whose image has been tainted by his political enemies who were able to rewrite history due to their longevity and his untimely death in a duel at the age ...more
The future first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton was born on a tropical hell-hole in the middle of the Caribbean. Later orphaned by his parents, and then deserted again by an uncle who mysteriously bled to death, Hamilton was left on his own. On the bottom of a highly stratified social ladder, he was without influential relatives and money that were necessary to secure a half decent education.

Though he seemed destined for social and financial destitution, Hamilton’s escape from the West In
Justin Spring
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This was an extremely informative book about one of the more interesting, human, and lesser known founding fathers of the U.S. It was mostly sympathetic to Alexander Hamilton, but pulled no punches when it came to discussing his human foibles. I hadn't realized the degree to which George Washington was a father figure to Hamilton and how Washington's influence and steady hand had managed to keep Hamilton on the straight and narrow, and thinking straight. Hamilton became much more human (and inte ...more
Sep 20, 2007 Nathan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Disillusioned bank clerks.
If there is a fault with this book, it is only that it is too long. (Roughly 27,000 pages.) It is an important study and a fresh look at one of the most important of all our founding fathers. Though Hamilton never got to be president, in forming the central bank and helping script the Federalist Papers, Hamilton has had a lasting effect on this country, more durable than the legacy of the vast majorities of our commanders-in-chief, and the book proves that. It also proves that many of Hamilton's ...more
Aug 20, 2007 Caitlyn marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thingsigaveupon
So, I haven't read this yet. but... I was just at the National Archives and our dear Alex was up on the great mural of the rotunda. He has a sword, spurs and a great white cape. Fabulous. I decided he was a Hamilton-guy through and through.

it also made me wish we'd gotten either that sword or those spurs when we graduated. Better than the cane...

Yeah, ok ... my attention span isn't nearly long enough for this. Luckily the library lets me keep it until January. (It may take that long)
Aaron Million
Excellent book! Great biography of one of the Founding Fathers - sometimes considered to be the smartest one who never became President. Chernow is a superb story-teller: something that a good historian and thorough biographer really needs to be. This book was exhaustively researched and incredibly fair - Hamilton's brilliance shines through when it should (first Secretary of the Treasury, establishment of a national banking system), and his stunning lack of morals or short-sighted behavior is o ...more
I think I should get a visit from Alexander Hamilton's appreciative ghost for finishing this book.
Chernow's work is an exhaustive (and at 800+ pages somewhat exhausting!) biography of probably the most underestimated and least written about founding father. This amazing individual's accomplishments range from a key role in interpreting, and securing ratification of, the US Constitution to being the driving force behind the organization of the 1st federal government. He also happened to be a war hero, a highly successful attorney, and a man who rose to all these heights from poverty in the Ca ...more
This is in most respects an excellent biography, and one that's sure to bring a deep appreciation of Hamilton's role in the founding of the Republic. It's not too much to suggest that there would have been no United States without Hamilton -- perhaps only Washington and Madison were as instrumental to the birth of the nation. Chernow is served well by the fact that he's a journalist, not an academic; as a good journalist can, he masterfully lays out why Hamilton matters, while bringing him fully ...more
Nate Cooley
In "Alexander Hamilton," Chernow has written a masterful biography. Long overlooked as one of the most influential figures in the developmental stage of the Republic, Ron Cherhow tackled the task of sketching Alexander Hamilton's life superbly. Unlike many of the other founders, namely Franklin, Washington, Jefferson, or Adams, relatively little has been writing about Hamilton. Frankly speaking, however, Hamilton played as great a role in the development of this country when compared to some of ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: ISBN 1101200855 (ISBN13: 9781101200858) 4 16 Apr 29, 2014 05:16PM  
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Ron Chernow was born in 1949 in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating with honors from Yale College and Cambridge University with degrees in English Literature, he began a prolific career as a freelance journalist. Between 1973 and 1982, Chernow published over sixty articles in national publications, including numerous cover stories. In the mid-80s Chernow went to work at the Twentieth Century Fund ...more
More about Ron Chernow...
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“Perseverance in almost any plan is better than fickleness and fluctuation. (Alexander Hamilton, July 1792)” 10 likes
“A prudent silence will frequently be taken for wisdom and a sentence or two cautiously thrown in will sometimes gain the palm of knowledge, while a man well informed but indiscreet and unreserved will not uncommonly talk himself out of all consideration and weight. (Alexander Hamilton's 'thesis on discretion' written to his son James shortly before his fatal duel with Burr.)” 4 likes
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