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Alexander Hamilton

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Scott Brick

35 Hours 58 Minutes

Penguin Audio

October 2004

Audio Book Summary

The inspiration for the hit Broadway musical Hamilton! 

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, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all.”Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow’s biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today’s America is the result of Hamilton’s countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. “To repudiate his legacy,” Chernow writes, “is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world.” Chernow here recounts Hamilton’s turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washington’s aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, coauthoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party, and becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States.

Historians have long told the story of America’s birth as the triumph of Jefferson’s democratic ideals over the aristocratic intentions of Hamilton. Chernow presents an entirely different man, whose legendary ambitions were motivated not merely by self-interest but by passionate patriotism and a stubborn will to build the foundations of American prosperity and power. His is a Hamilton far more human than we’ve encountered before—from his shame about his birth to his fiery aspirations, from his intimate relationships with childhood friends to his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Monroe, and Burr, and from his highly public affair with Maria Reynolds to his loving marriage to his loyal wife Eliza. And never before has there been a more vivid account of Hamilton’s famous and mysterious death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July of 1804.

Chernow’s biography is not just a portrait of Hamilton, but the story of America’s birth seen through its most central figure. At a critical time to look back to our roots, Alexander Hamilton will remind readers of the purpose of our institutions and our heritage as Americans.

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  • nab6215

    This is the abridged version of the biography that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda. When you read Ron Chernow's book you can feel the rhythm of the musical. It pays to have a good background of the players and times in order to better appreciate this book. I do not know if the reason I feel so strongly this way is that I was listening to the abridged version but it may have been. You may have noticed I have been slogging through presidential biographies. I probably will not do them all. The more I learn about Thomas Jefferson the less I like him--and I didn't like him very much before because of the editing his Bible thing. From what I learned about John Adams in this book I don't want to read anymore. Ron Chernow brought Alexander Hamilton alive to me, warts and all. It is a really good book. It is a shame that Alexander Hamilton's life was cut short by his own stupidity. He had so many brilliant ideas.

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  • Salil M

    Enjoy this informative biography of this one of the most influential founding fathers

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  • Shelly

    I absolutely loved this book. It was well written and the author successfully brought the characters to life, exposing their motivations, compassion, corruption, etc. Facts and historical references are used to set the stage for the actions that take place, instead of bogging down the story to the point where you feel as though you're reading a textbook in preparation for a pop quiz.

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  • Amelia B.

    Fabulous! Our early, monumental history written so clearly it feels like we know our founding fathers having spent time with Ron Chernow’s book in our ears. Great listen!

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  • Ethan K.

    Listen to this book. Do not throw away your shot.

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  • lynn p

    This was a really great book. I am fairly familiar with our finding fathers, but this was extremely informative in that it really gave me differing points of view of George Washington, John Adams, Hamilton, of course, but Thomas Jefferson was particularly enlightening. I will never look at these guys in the same way. Chernow provided all of the stuff that is common knowledge but enhanced it all with more in depth coverage of the people around them, the controversies, scandals and ideological differences as well. His explanations of the financial questions dealt with and the system which grew from Hamilton's ideas along with covering the arguments for and against the Federalist and Replubican views of the day, really made the period come alive, and that is really dry stuff to make interesting. I don't d this often, but I will listen to this again in order to absorb it all. I highly recommend this book.

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  • Mary Ann G

    Anazing! I have a great interest in history and found this book very informative I have not seen the broadway production Hamilton but hope to soon! I thought I would like to hear to story of Alexander Hamilton's life before I do so I that I would have a better understanding of his character and his life.

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  • Andy Parker

    Loved this book. Having read Meacham's bio of Jefferson, I now know that Hamilton was his equal if not his superior. Were it not for AH, this country would probably not be a country.

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  • Anonymous

    This book was fascinating. Can't tell you how many times I wished my trip wouldn't end so I could keep listening.

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  • Michael H.

    Loved this! Highly recommend! Incredible detail, clearly author admires Hamilton (AH very worthy of admiration) but also points out shortcomings. Very balanced. Also, a great recounting of the early days of US Democracy, so much of what happened then comparable to our time.

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