Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

February 3, 2021

Amazingly rich, detailed biography of Alexander Hamilton.

Long book.

I was late to the party on the musical, and loved it despite little interest in the genre. It left me eager to read the book that apparently shaped so much of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s vision for his famed musical, and I spent months (!) working my way through Chernow’s pages.

The complex, astounding life of such a pivotal historical figure seemed justly portrayed with a staggering amount of detail and nuance.

One of my favorite things Chernow did with every character he introduced—often more than once while following that character through their own changes—was try and convey enough about them to lift them out of a painting and bring them into the room with you. The book was filled with complex, fully-shaded people and not just names and dates.

It’s drama, adversity, triumph, and tragedy in a meticulously told story of early American politics that obviously and directly shaped the world we’re living in today. I doubt there could ever be a more detailed account of Alexander Hamilton’s life, and the book and musical rightly insist it’s a story that needs to be told.