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Eliza Hamilton: The Extraordinary Life and Times of the Wife of Alexander Hamilton

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  442 ratings  ·  108 reviews
From the New York Times bestselling author of Irena’s Children comes a comprehensive and riveting biography of the extraordinary life and times of Eliza Hamilton, the wife of founding father Alexander Hamilton, and a powerful, unsung hero in America’s early days.

Fans fell in love with Eliza Hamilton—Alexander Hamilton’s devoted wife—in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s phenomenal musi
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published September 18th 2018 by Gallery Books
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Collette Gee That should be a warning for how awful and historically inaccurate this book is! Eliza deserves so much better!

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3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  442 ratings  ·  108 reviews

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Oct 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
Reading this was an absolute waste of time & I do not understand how the term "biography" can be attached to this. Biographical fiction? Yes. But this is not a biography.

The way the author wrote this was incredibly frustrating, starting with the first sentence on the first page: "Eliza blushed. It was a beautiful letter." After reading the first page, I actually checked to make sure this was a biography and not another fictional account of her life. The rest of the book continued this way,
Jan Priddy
Dec 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
"Aaron Burr was famously louche and horny." What can I say about a sentence combining a high school senior's vocabulary word with slang? Not to mention "a hot bullet tore through Hamilton's abdomen, shattering his rib cage." Nothing actually wrong with either one, except that I found sentence structures like this gave me pause on almost every page.

And then the lines such as: "Those words echoed for Hamilton, who lay very still until he heard the quiet breath of his child sleeping." There is no
Kathi Johnson
Nov 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
I can't understand the high ratings this book has garnered or why it is classified as a biography. The research is sloppy and the fictionalized additions by the author don't add to the book's credibility. The book's publication soon after the Hamilton musical's amazing
success makes me question the timing and perhaps the author's motivation in writing the book.
Eliza Hamilton was an intriguing personality in history and deserves a proper biography.
Margaret Sankey
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mazzeo explores the life and context of Eliza Hamilton--her family network of wealthy Dutch patroons, the American Revolution, her sketchy in-laws (Angelica and Cornelia picked creeps with whom to elope), the financial boom of the 1790s, Hamilton's status as an outsider favorite of the Washingtons and user of the Schuyler network, the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia and the four decades of widowhood and philanthropy. This is well-researched, but popularly formatted with references in the b ...more
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
So interesting! A great look into her life.
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Hamilton fans, biography lovers
I loved this super readable biography of Eliza Hamilton. For anyone who can't get enough of the Hamilton craze, or just wants to learn more about a strong woman coming of age with America, this is a great read.

My one caveat is that it's told in such a wonderfully readable style (it's not dry at all), that I was a little uncomfortable with the author authoritatively saying what Eliza's reactions to events, etc were. I wish there was more source material from Eliza herself. However, there's just s
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
This book gets two stars because of the subject matter - I’d never rate anything involving Eliza Hamilton lower. If you want to read this biography please understand, though, that it is NOT a biography. This is a work of historical fiction couched as a biography by an author riding on the coattails of Miranda and Chernow. The front cover praise indicates that it “reads like a novel” and it does, because it is. I don’t see how a proper historian writes a biography that focuses almost entirely on ...more
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was an intriguing glimpse into the lives of Eliza Hamilton and her Revolutionary peers. I’m glad that while this is a biography of Eliza there was a plethora of information about the people who influenced her life and times. I’ve seen plenty about Eliza’s relationship with her husband and sisters, but this book gave me a much more complete picture of her life. I was fascinated by the historic figures she interacted with as well as her unique part of establishing the United States of America ...more
Leslie Goddard
Oct 31, 2018 rated it did not like it
What a disappointment. I was so excited to think that at last there would be a biography of Eliza Hamilton. Nope. This is NOT a biography
Kathryn Bashaar
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
My husband and I recently saw the musical Hamilton, and like many people who have that pleasure, I was curious to know more about Alexander Hamilton and his wife Eliza.
This was a good biography, and I understand it is the ONLY complete biography of Eliza Hamilton. It gave me the information I wanted and was written in a very readable, novelistic form. In several places, Mazzeo assumes that she knows what someone was thinking, which is a little jarring in a serious biography, but in almost every
Mar 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
The author states that she is not a historian; this is the truest thing she's written in the entire book.

I've spent the last year or so doing an in-depth survey of Alexander Hamilton's life, times, and legacy, and along the way, I've also learned quite a bit about Eliza and the Schuyler family (even visiting their homes in Albany & Saratoga). I don't expect every book I read to be a doctorate-level dissertation, but this... this was some really BAD history.

For one thing, the author couldn't
Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a hard one to rate, simply because I almost feel like it should be under historical fiction rather than Biography. I know there are not a lot of source materials from Eliza herself, but I did not like how the author would infer or state things about Eliza that she actually has no way of knowing. For example, saying that Eliza blushed. Really? How did she know that? I think the author took a lot of leeway. Also, the theory the author raises around the Maria Reynolds scandal is interesting ...more
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
The subject of this book, Eliza Hamilton, is always worthy of five stars. Unfortunately, before I read this book, I read 'My Dear Hamilton', which presented the same facts, in a more fiction aspect. So, I felt like I was reading a less thrilling version of that. It's not to say that it's not good, and that I'm not grateful. It's a good read for anyone who wants to learn the facts of Eliza's life- without the pretense of fiction distorting fact from filler.
The qualm I have with this read is that
Donna Sosa
Mar 28, 2019 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
The blurb on the cover states: “Tilar Mazzeo brings Eliza Hamilton to and reads like a novel.”

And why does it read like a novel? Because that’s what it IS!

Just how, pray tell, does Mazzeo know how Hamilton thought, acted, or felt? How does Mazzeo constantly know Hamilton’s emotional state, or what she did down to the last minute of every waking day? Short answer: She doesn’t — she can’t. She can only imagine and infer, which, my friends, is FICTION when put in writing.

Eliza Ham
Jan 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book, but it read as much like a fictionalized account of someone's life as an actual biography, maybe more so. There were many scenes in which Eliza's (and Alexander's) inner thoughts or physical reactions, like blushing or calmly sighing, were stated as fact-- though they couldn't have been known.

The author used a lot of mixed language when talking about enslaved people, some of which does justice to the lives those people were living against their will, but much of which conti
The author used research which she then fleshed out into the story of Eliza Hamilton's life. The beginning of the book was about her childhood and then about a third of the way through the book, the scandals started. If you like books about the ways of the world in those days with the balls and the limited opportunities for women, you will enjoy this book. If you liked the musical, then you may be interested in this.

I'm not a fan of reading most historical tales, whether fiction or non or of rea
Michael Denton
Oct 09, 2018 rated it liked it
It’s a quick read but you quickly tell that the author makes up for the lack of source material on Eliza by filling in the blanks herself. While it’s nice to have the perspective of Eliza and what was going on at home for Alexander there are many times where the read has to ask “how would this author know that?” This would be fine except for her main theory on the Reynolds Pamphlet. This argument is poorly made and relies solely on interpreting Eliza’s behavior instead of attempting to make an a ...more
Bea Lynch
Jan 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, college
I am so disappointedly underwhelmed by this book. As an American Revolution scholar, and Hamilton fan, I was thrilled to see that Eliza finally had her own biography. However, Mazzeo's citations are limited, and she admits in the notes that she is not writing a "dissertation." Regardless, the creative liberties the author takes bring to question "what is fact?" Mazzeo imagines the unseen interactions between Eliza and her family in ways that can never be proven, and while this brings these histo ...more
A well-written account of the turbulent life of Eliza Hamilton, who damn well deserves her own musical for everything she had to go through. "best of wives and best of women", as Alexander would say. A must-read for every fan of the Hamilton musical. But beware: although classified as a biography, this book reads more like historical fiction. Take it with a grain of salt.
Shoddy research, questionable sources, fictionalized passages, and numerous claims without proof/sources. I can’t finish this book because the author clearly isn’t trustworthy. This is highly disappointing. Eliza deserves better. I hope somewhere there is a scholar writing a better biography of her remarkable life, because I eagerly await being able to read it.
John Behle
Feb 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
Could not muscle past the first chapter. Tilar Mazzeo whips out a virtual daytime TV soap opera script that is unreadable to anyone looking for history.

An obvious capitalization on the success of the musical, I enjoyed consulting Wikipedia for fact checking more than plowing through this sing-song screenplay like work.

Tip: next time you are in Manhattan, visit Alexander and Eliza's home on 414 W 141st St. I was there recently on gray winter day. With just the tour guide as company, I easily en
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've been so curious about Eliza's story and this is an amazing biography of her.
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book, that is as much concerned with the details of being alive at that time, as with the historical events. Author's Notes at the end are very good.
Devon Black
Dec 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Written like a novel. Not much discussion of her sources or how she comes to her conclusions, which is important when writing about someone who famously is missing documents.
Feb 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
This is fiction - not a biography. The author even wrote the birth years incorrectly on the family tree for Eliza and Anjelica. Do not read. Stick with Chernow.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019-a
I take a lot of issues with this book. The biggest issue I have with this book is that the author couldn't seem to decide if it's a biography or historical fiction. A lot of the assumptions about Eliza's feelings didn't seem to be founded on anything. She also didn't seem to do any research because some information I could dispute with a quick google search and everything that she cited were all letters and nothing else.

The author can write, I'll give her that but it shouldn't be classified as
Sep 06, 2018 rated it liked it
I have stayed somewhat clear of the mania around Alexander Hamilton these last few years, but I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway, and I just happen to be in possession of tickets for "Hamilton" in Chicago for next month, so it was time...

I recognize that the book I read is an advanced reader's copy, but it seems to me a fair amount of editing still needs to be done. I found countless mistakes, errors in the genealogical chart at the front of the book, and got a sense that the last chap
When a book starts off with the birth and the death dates wrong of some of the most important people in Eliza's life, you know you're not reading quality literature
S.A. Jones
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019-reading
While informative, and I did learn several things I didn't already know, many of the sources for information on several things were rather questionable, and I struggled through the writing style immensely. A book on a historical figure I adore I expected to take me three, maybe four days to read, and it took me the better part of a month.
I do commend Mazzeo for taking on the "first full-length biography of Eliza Hamilton."
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Tilar J. Mazzeo is a cultural historian, biographer, and passionate student of wine and food culture. She divides her time among the California wine country, New York City, and Maine, where she is a professor of English at Colby College.

(from the author's website)