Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Alexander Hamilton” as Want to Read:
Alexander Hamilton
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Alexander Hamilton

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  16,579 ratings  ·  627 reviews
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, charisma...more
Paperback, 818 pages
Published March 29th 2005 by Penguin Books (first published April 26th 2004)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Alexander Hamilton, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Alexander Hamilton

John Adams by David McCullough1776 by David McCulloughTeam of Rivals by Doris Kearns GoodwinA People's History of the United States by Howard ZinnBattle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPherson
Best American History Books
12th out of 1,005 books — 1,408 voters
Steve Jobs by Walter IsaacsonUnbroken by Laura HillenbrandEinstein by Walter IsaacsonInto the Wild by Jon KrakauerJohn Adams by David McCullough
Best Biographies
15th out of 530 books — 1,366 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
“..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...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...more
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
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
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...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...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
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).

Chernow had previously made a name for himself as a biographer...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...more
Justin Spring
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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)
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
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
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
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...more
Thorough, detailed, excellent biography of Alexander Hamilton, one of our Founding Fathers. I never knew very much about him, and this book raised him in my estimation to the very top, right up with Pres. George Washington (of the Founding Fathers). From a bleak upbringing in Nevis and St. Croix, to school in NYC, to fighting in the American Revolution. He was George Washington's Chief of Staff, his right arm. He became the Secretary of Treasury under Washington's administration, and set our cou...more
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
This review integrates my thoughts on two books: The Business of May Next by William Lee Miller, and Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.

The Most Influential Founding Father

My son had to write a school essay on which Founding Father has had the most lasting influence on U.S. government. Nearly everyone agrees that this is no easy choice, since there are several of them who were indispensable to the founding, and several others who were indispensable to setting the stage for the founding to begin....more
Finally finished this 700 + pages of this book. Must have strong wrists to hold up these heavy hardback novels. Kindle is sounding better, but not there yet.
I did enjoy reading this very detailed book for several reasons: 1 It's always amazing to me how someone from such dire circumstances can overcome their poverty, lack of education and poor reputation due to his family background. 2 It was interesting to read about the peers of Hamilton. Men like Washington, Burr, Jefferson, Madison and Monro...more

Who is Alexander Hamilton? The greatest founder save George Washington, or the Antichrist? The latter is the view of Hamilton one may derive from the accounts of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, whereas Rob Chernow’s biography views him in a far more sympathetic light. Though not quite a hagiography, it rings a tribute to a man whose accomplishments are impressive, even to his critics. Hamilton’s life is the story of a boy twice orphaned (losing not only his parents, but two sets of guardians),...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: ISBN 1101200855 (ISBN13: 9781101200858) 4 16 Apr 29, 2014 05:16PM  
  • Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times
  • Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams
  • Madison and Jefferson
  • The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin
  • The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation's Call to Greatness
  • Henry Clay: The Essential American
  • Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations
  • John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, a Private Life
  • Colonel Roosevelt
  • Eisenhower in War and Peace
  • Mr. Adams's Last Crusade: The Extraordinary Post-presidential Life of John Quincy Adams
  • James Madison
  • The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution
  • What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848
  • American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House
  • Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America
  • Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence
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

Share This Book

“Perseverance in almost any plan is better than fickleness and fluctuation. (Alexander Hamilton, July 1792)” 8 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
More quotes…