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de Ron Chernow
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Founding Father (1)
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I save "fives" for the rare book that becomes a classic. This one is a "4 1/2."
The book, and Ron Chernow, is exceptional, scholarly and entertaining at the same time. I had not realized how central a character was in American life. And how much of a "rags to riches" (well not financially but in terms of impact) he was. Alexander Hamilton's life, warts and all, is exposed. He was a true genius but then again, he operated in a sea of such people; John and Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, Benjamin Franklin to name a few.
The book amply demonstrates that when the chips were down, he made what are now considered the right choices. He picked his political enemy, Thomas Jefferson, over Aaron Burr when it came to the deadlocked 1800 election. After romantic dalliances he returned to hearth and home. What wasn't explained was Chernow's strong distaste for John Adams. Generally the kind of people who like Adams would like Hamilton, or so you'd think.
But those are quibbles; I recommend the book, strongly.
Well written and researched, giving an in-depth account of the formation of the US constitution and financial system. Chernow tended to display his bias against the Republicans at times but at a tolerable level. Highly recommended.
Very well written biography of one of the seminal founding fathers. Having read Adams' biography last year, I now appreciate the animosity these two men had (from Adams' point of view, Hamilton was a monarchist). I was quite surprised to learn how much Hamilton did to create the United States (and having grown up in Virginia, the Federalist Papers were all about the genius of Madison when it was really Hamilton who was the moving force). I was also very surprised to learn about Jefferson's anti-Washington (as in the president) views. I need to read a biography of TJ to get his side of the story.
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In this favorable, hefty biography of Alexander Hamilton, Chernow (The Warburgs; The House of Morgan) makes the case for him as one of the most important Founding Fathers, arguing that America is heir to the Hamiltonian vision of the modern economic state. His sweeping narrative chronicles the complicated and often contradictory life of Hamilton, from his obscure birth on Nevis Island to his meteoric rise as confidant to Washington, coauthor of The Federalist Papers, and America's first Treasury secretary, to his bizarre death at the hands of Aaron Burr. A running theme is the contradictions exhibited during his life: a member of the Constitutional Convention, Hamilton nevertheless felt that the Constitution was seriously flawed and was fearful of rule by the people. A devoted father and husband, he had two known affairs. Lastly, he was philosophically and morally opposed to dueling, and yet that's how he met his end. Although quite sympathetic to Hamilton, Chernow attempts to present both sides of his many controversies, including Hamilton's momentous philosophical battles with Jefferson. Chernow relies heavily on primary sources and previously unused volumes of Hamilton's writings. A first-rate life and excellent addition to the ongoing debate about Hamilton's importance in the shaping of America.
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Wikipedia en anglès (22)
Publisher's description: 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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Classificació Decimal de Dewey (DDC)973.4092History and Geography North America United States Constitutional period (1789-1809) Constitutional period (1789-1809)
LCC (Clas. Bibl. Congrés EUA)
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Of course, Hamilton is a historical figure with a life worth examining. His very modest beginnings from a broken family, his especially close relationship with Washington, his infidelity, his enormous family, the financial struggles and his "no novelist could come up with this" demise . . .it's quite riveting. Through it all, his ability to comprehend and synthesize massive amounts of information cement his role in history.
The book merits 5 stars for scholarship and those who love biography and history will probably grant it. For me, it felt a little too much like work to read it to quite get it to the five star level, but I was very glad I did read it and definitely recommend. ( )