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September 2017: American > Alexander Hamilton- Chernow - 5 stars

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message 1: by Jgrace (new)

Jgrace | 2946 comments Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Alexander Hamilton - Chernow
5 stars

“He was not a politician seeking popularity but a statesman determined to change minds”

It took me a very long time to finish this book. That was not because it was uninteresting or poorly written. Far from it. It is thorough, comprehensive, and academic. It required me to focus my attention. Occasionally, I felt myself floundering in the details, but Chernow would always pull me back on point with clear analysis of the historical or psychological significance of events. I found myself humbled in the presence of genius; Hamilton’s frenetic ability to visualize and help codify a completely new form of government, and Chernow’s ability to capture such a complex personality on paper. (The third genius must be Lin-Manuel Miranda, but I have not, alas,seen the musical.)

I had a basic awareness of Hamilton’s major contributions to the Revolution and our early government. But now, I’m in awe of how much he accomplished under duress in short periods of time. Chernow is meticulous in his depiction of early American cutthroat politics. Not much has changed in that respect. It’s not surprising that the political opposition (Jefferson, et al.) would make use of Hamilton’s sex scandal. (Proving that even brilliant men can be extremely stupid.) However, my biggest takeaway from this involved history was how much damage was done with outright lies. Repeated often enough, lies are believed despite evidence to the contrary; alt facts 18th century style.

I actually bought this book before it became a musical. It was a gift for my father. I knew he was a Hamilton fan. Growing up in New Jersey, I’d heard a bit of Hamilton lore myself. Sadly, I don’t think my dad ever read the book. His health was beginning to fail and I think it was just too much for him. It would have been great to pick up the phone to discuss this book with him.


message 2: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7782 comments Darn it!! I am still on page 250.

Like you, it is not that I do not like it, I actually enjoy it quite a bit and Chernow does pull you right into the story, but man you have to think a lot.


message 3: by Diane (new)

Diane Zwang | 485 comments I agree you have to think a lot for this one. Lots of details.


message 4: by Joi (new)

Joi (missjoious) | 3822 comments My new goal: To read this before seeing Hamilton (the musical) next March!


message 5: by Jgrace (new)

Jgrace | 2946 comments Joi wrote: "My new goal: To read this before seeing Hamilton (the musical) next March!"

Good luck with that!


message 6: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8868 comments You have tickets for Hamilton? I'm impressed! You might consider shopping for your wedding dress in New York City while you're there.


message 7: by Joi (new)

Joi (missjoious) | 3822 comments Amy wrote: "You have tickets for Hamilton? I'm impressed! You might consider shopping for your wedding dress in New York City while you're there."

Haha, thanks for thinking of me Amy! There is actually a touring cast, and it's coming to Portland as part of the Broadway Across America series. So I'll be seeing it there :)

But tickets are no joke! We bought ours as a season package so it was bout $450 for 6 touring Broadway shows- but people are re-selling their Hamilton tickets for $500-$3000!!!!! Crazy. Turns out seeing Hamilton is worth more than the $1500 I could probably get for our two tickets.


message 8: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8868 comments Now I understand! I was afraid you were sacrificing your wedding dress!


message 9: by Denizen (new)

Denizen (den13) | 1138 comments I knew you'd get through it Judith. You are tenacious. You can shelf it next to Midnight's children;-)

I'm sorry you didn't get to share it with your dad. Those unshared moments are always tough.


message 10: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8868 comments I think I never saw your original note. Only Joi's. I really appreciated what you had to say, and was also sorry you didn't get to share it with your father. And I felt that one personally, as I am extremely close with my own.


message 11: by Jgrace (new)

Jgrace | 2946 comments Denizen wrote: "I knew you'd get through it Judith. You are tenacious. You can shelf it next to Midnight's children;-)

I'm sorry you didn't get to share it with your dad. Those unshared moments are always tough."


My dad died in 2007. In some ways reading this book gave me a chance to visit with him. Not at all a sad thing, just keeping his memory alive.


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