Written By: Ron Chernow

Narrated By: Scott Brick

Date: October 2004

Duration: 35 hours 58 minutes

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.

Genres:

  • 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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful.

  • Salil M

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

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful.

  • 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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful.

  • 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!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Ethan K.

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

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • 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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • 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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • 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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Anonymous

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

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • 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.

  • Pontius Pilate

    Excellent book that was entertaining and informative. Highly Recommend.

  • David P.

    Loved it all

  • Bruce K.

    Chernow writes a long and fascinating history of a complex and fascinating man with the grammar of the period which was much more romantic and expressive than today. It becomes hard to fathom the intricate turns and decisions and how they helped define and end a mans life. Chernow seems to have the skill to explain the how and why in every turn without being boring or redundant. I know this is one book that I will return to again and again. It will become a good friend.

  • Armando T

    A lot details, great book.

  • Harry H

    Amazing how little politics have changed since our country's birth.

  • Kenneth Snyder

    I really enjoyed this book and Gardner's narration. It helped that I knew I was going to see the play soon and it definitely added to my enjoyment of the performance. I highly recommend this book and audio recording.

  • Jordan Blanton

    Great book! Tons of history and Chernow did a great job of tying the life of Hamilton into an exciting read/listen. Definitely recommend.

  • George Opitz

    Truly an excellent book and listen. Highly recommend to any history or non-fiction enthusiast. Well done.

  • Stacey Ryan

    Great story all the way around, especially for someone who never paid attention to history lessons in school. Interesting how timely it is to today in many ways. Wish I could see the play and have it all brought to life.

  • michael roberts

    it was good, after Washington then hamilton I tired of chernow's style

  • Dianne Mueller

    Terrific but not as fabulous as Chernow's Washinton. So sad that Hamillton does not have Washington's insight in controlling passions and temperament. He was his own worst enemy. . Humans suffered premature deaths due to Burt's corruption and avarice. Unconscionable! Thank God Washington had Hamilton to guide him.

  • Cody Casey

    This is a terrific book! I knew very little about Hamilton before listening to this book. Afterward I started searching for more reading on The American forefathers.

  • Drew

    After earlier reading Fallen Founder (The Life of Aaron Burr) and John Adams, it was easy to pick up on the villain Alexander Hamilton. In preparing to delve into this book, I was expecting a book of excuses. Instead, what I found was a bit of humility about the man and the ignoring of some circumstances in his life that shone him in a bad light. But I also discovered that the John Adams and Aaron Burr portrayals were lacking in a balanced history of Hamilton. I think any high school history student or college history major should read the Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton books back to back. There in they will find the truth about history. It is almost always told from a point of view. The book itself is quite enjoyable with a pleasant narrator. It doesn't get lost in mundane facts about fiscal policy (although it is abridged) as some have said. I would recommend it.

  • Stephen J. Sink

    This was an enjoyable biography. I also liked the history of the Revolutionary War and early nation-building it contained. It filled in a number of gaps in my understanding, particularly about Hamilton's relations with Washington, Jefferson, Madison, etc. I came away, though, feeling like I knew quite a bit more information ABOUT Hamilton without having much connection to him as a person. The whole Burr duel fiasco was so frustrating to listen to. What a waste!

  • RML

    It is a dry read. The book is for those interested in the beginnings of economic theory and the history of economics. It is also for those interested in 18th century history and want to get additional details about this period. This is a a commentary of the book. It excerpts parts of the book but attempts to provide background and comment about the book without opinion.

  • Listener

    Book allowed me to weave together a fuller story of a fabled person. Without judging its accuracy, portrayal seems balanced and full of interesting details about his complex personality. I found the book interesting and recommend it.

  • Kathy Jernigan

    This is a supberb book. I was as interested on disc 11 as I was on disc 1. The look into this great mans life and the people he came in to contact with is just amazing. A very good listen and I would recommend it to young people as well as adults.

  • Jean

    This is an excellent bio of Alexander Hamilton. It had been along time since I had read anything on Hamilton and was surprised at how much I had forgotten or did not know. I mostly remember the famous duel and forgot all his work as treasurer and with Washington during the war. Great book. I have come to prefer bio's in audio version rather than reading.

  • Clark Malak

    An outstanding book. The challenge in a biography of such a seminal character is to blend the personal history with his role in public life, and this book does so superbly. The other theme of the book is really not about Hamilton as much as it is about the challenges faced by those who were there to both witness and take part in the birth of this great nation. Some of those challenges were physical, and the book certainly outlines those. But the most intriguing challenges were ones involving the sort of union to be had, challenges which face many third world nations still today. I strongly recommend this book.

  • William Kurry

    Well written and fast moving. A great read. If this is the abridged version, it certainly seems like enough for me. I recommend...... BK

  • Adam

    Fairly interesting book on one of America's greatest men.Everyone should be required to read a book about Alexander Hamilton-the true father of this country.

  • Shane Nixon

    WOW 11 discs and I was as into it on 11 as I was on 1. There should be a subtitle that this book is also a fairly good cliff notes version of several other biographries. Jefferson, Monroe, Madison, Washington, and at least a couple more are all given enough time to call them almost mini-biographies inside the greater one. Well written and well read, this is excellent. It would help to be a history buff, but could be enjoyable even if not.

  • Beverly Edgmon

    Worth reading. I feel an unexpected sadness for Hamilton and his family in his life trials.

  • Martha Daniel

    I really enjoyed this book, Ron Chernow really gave Alexander Hamilton his due and the story is fascinating. In my opinion this is one the finest biographies of one of our more important founding fathers that I have read. Its is simply a must read!

  • Mary McGivern

    This book was fascinating - not only from the standpoint of getting a human picture of Hamilton, but of getting a perspective on his famous peers at that time. Chernov's book is well documented, and his writing style very accessible. I would recommend this to anyone - whether they know anything about this early period in history or not.

  • Anonymous

    It was interesting to see the foundations of the two party systems being laid in Hamilton's thought for government. His bad relations with John Adams was rather interesting and their two ideologies clashing make the truth of the founding Fathers real. We sometimes envision a large group hug, but in reality it becomes amazing that we were able to build such a great nation. My one comment is that dueling is not a wise way to settle a dispute. What a waste.

  • Anonymous

    If you want to learn about the American Revolution without realizing you are learning history, read this book. It is a very interesting point of view. The beginning was a bit hard to follow, with a lot of proper names to keep in order; but if you hang in there, the story becomes easy to follow. Appears to be well-researched.

  • Anonymous

    Very good CD - excellent reader. Gave a great view of the period as well as Hamilton's life and his influence in early America. Found the second half of the book the most interesting. Great change-up from thrillers and mysteries.

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by Ron Chernow

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