Monday, July 17, 2017

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander HamiltonAlexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First, I have to say that I feel so proud of myself for getting through this book. Am I allowed to say that? I never read straight historical non-fiction, and I never would have expected to enjoy this book as much as I did, despite the fact that I love history and Chernow is clearly a gifted historian. But this is a remarkable book that only makes me think more highly of Hamilton's vision and work ethic, not to mention my increased awe of Lin Manuel Miranda's Hamilton. To see how many lines and details of the musical were drawn from real letters and speeches was just awesome.

One of the big takeaways for me, besides being even more obsessed with the musical, is how astonishing it is that the American experiment was successful. With unbelieveable hamartias in each of the founding fathers, Hamilton included, and just so much ego, I am blown away by what it took for the United States to come into being. The complexities and nuances of how every bit of the constitution, the financial system, etc came to being seem miraculous. It was a stark reminder that no individual history - hero or villain - is just that one great or one horrendous moment that they are most remembered for. Just as I do not want to be judged for one day or one trait, the founding fathers and their often overlooked wives, were not perfect. Far from it from Chernow's descriptions, but they still did build this great nation that I am so proud to be a part of.

I was surprised to find myself tearing up in the conclusion of this epic book. I've known since that "Got Milk" commercial from the late 80s or early 90s, that Burr was going to kill Hamilton, but it felt so tragic and so unnecessary as I lived the final days and hours with the Hamiltons. More so, I felt weepy as the details of Eliza's fifty years as a widow unfolded. She was an amazing woman, and I'm glad for the chance to have gotten to "sit with her" as she told of her Hamilton.

Happy reading-- It's worth it!

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