ALEXANDER HAMILTON / Ron Chernow

This is the biography on which the Broadway musical Hamilton was based.  While it contains no hip-hop lyrics, it’s got a gripping story.  Even though everybody knows how it ends (Vice President Aaron Burr kills Hamilton in a duel), the book kept me interested until the bitter end.  Burr’s and Hamilton’s careers intersected at numerous points so they had many years to develop their animosity towards one another.  And Hamilton had a long history with dueling, primarily as a “second” to active duellists.  His son was killed in a duel just a few years before his own “affair of honor”.  Chernow tells of Hamilton’s massive contributions toward founding this country.  As aide-de-camp to George Washington in the Revolutionary War, he channeled Washington’s thoughts and transformed them into action.  His interpretations of the Constitution in the Federalist Papers still resonate today and have been cited frequently by the Supreme Court.  As Treasury secretary, he single-handedly set up an American banking system that resulted in years of prosperity.    Despite his achievements, he was a flawed hero: though he clearly loved his wife Eliza and doted on his numerous children, he participated in a love affair which resulted in blackmail and years of reminders from his enemies about his indiscretions.  This book was published in 2004, but it is as much a current topic as ever.      Elaine 11/10/2017

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