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Alexander Hamilton, American by Richard Brookhiser
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Jun 22, 10

Read in May, 2010

A short and not particularly great biography of a man about whom I didn't know all that much. Hamilton is a fascinating character, yet Brookhiser manages to make him almost uninteresting.

Brookhiser shows brief flashes of good writing: he's at his best when summing up Hamilton's place in the early years of our Republic. But when delving into the details of Hamilton's life, he's less than thrilling. Often the writing is murky and hard to gain any understanding from. It's as if Brookhiser, having plowed through all the first-hand sources and biographies, is steeped in Hamilton's story... yet fails to pass on that knowledge to his reader in a satisfactory way. He seems to leave some things unsaid; things that appear crucial.

Anyway, it's a fairly quick read. I'm not familiar with any other scholarship on Hamilton, but I would wager that his life has been covered better by a better historian and better writer. I found myself constantly comparing this book to David McCullough's biography of John Adams. It's not a contest: McCullough is far better.
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