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Alexander Hamilton

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  20,913 ratings  ·  750 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
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
“..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
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
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
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
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
Frank Stein
This book has been justly feted as an unparalleled look at one of the most important, and most maligned, founding fathers. It thoroughly proves its case that Hamilton was the most important and admirable man of his era, in a period with no shortage of towering figures.

Hamilton's modernity, of course, is one of the most charming things about him to contemporary readers. He was thoroughly anti-slavery, a view probably emerging from his time growing up in the brutal Caribbean slave islands of St. N
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
When I was 13 I did a book report using this book, and as the "twist" for our project, we had to dress up as our biographical subject and present a report.

At the end of mine, my teacher prompted me to describe in detail the death wound.

(that teacher had some of the best assignments and he was hot so we loved him!!)
I think I should get a visit from Alexander Hamilton's appreciative ghost for finishing this book.
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
Suzanne Wheatley
The U.S. as we know it would not exist without Hamilton. Not only did he create the finanical system, he also created the extensive trappings of the executive branch, including the president's cabinet. Charges that he was a monarchist may have been true, and are based on his recommendations at the Constitutional Convention. At any rate, like most ambitious men of the day (including the man who killed him, Aaron Burr), he had Napoleonic aspirations that may or may not have been ended by an amazin ...more
Were it not for McCullough's masterful biography of Harry Truman, THIS would be my pick for the best biography I have ever read--and I have read quite a lot of biographies!
Chernow will have to happy with the number two spot. Nevertheless, this bio of Hamilton is thoughtful, painstakingly researched, and eminently readable. It reads as good as any thriller or even a good "historical fiction" (a genre I really can't stand!) novel--this is mostly because Hamilton himself stands among the Founders a
Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton is both thorough and readable. It begins with an exploration of Hamilton’s birth on 1755 on the Caribbean island of Nevis. He was probably illegitimate, and his childhood was hard and fraught with many challenges and transitions. Not until his late teen years was he able to move to New York where, within a year or so of his arrival, he enrolled at King’s College, now Columbia University. His intellectual gifts and industry were recognized even during his ...more
Justin Spring
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Before reading this book I knew little more of Alexander Hamilton than the passing references I had come across in biographies of other members of the Founding Generation. I ended it in tears, utterly distressed at his untimely death at the hands of Aaron Burr over two hundred years ago, and indignant on his behalf at his relative lack of historical renown, compared to other figures such as Jefferson, Washington and Adams.

Alexander Hamilton perhaps more than any other man created the America we
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
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Goodreads Librari...: ISBN 1101200855 (ISBN13: 9781101200858) 4 17 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...
Washington: A Life Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance The Warburgs: The Twentieth-Century Odyssey of a Remarkable Jewish Family The Death of the Banker: The Decline and Fall of the Great Financial Dynasties and the Triumph of the Small Investor

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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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