Saturday, 5 August 2017

It's a big book!

The book has 43 chapters, 731 pages of text, 48 pages of footnotes, and 7 pages of bibliography.  It was given to me as a birthday gift last May by my wonderful SRQ friends Ron and Charlotte Thompson.

The book is

 It is  a magnificent and comprehensive biography of a man who was arguably the most brilliant man of the Revolutionary War; as a soldier, as a lawyer, and as a scholar (with James Madison) of the meaning of the new United States Constitution  (c.f. "The Federalist Papers").

Hamilton was loved and respected by George Washington.

In the early days he was a friend and ally of John Adams (our second President, and of James Madison (our fourth).

Jefferson (our third President) and Hamilton were implacable foes from the get go.

Because Hamilton  wrote prolifically author Chernow has been able to write what may well be the definitive biography.

In all of his adult life Alexander Hamilton was sustained  by his wife, Eliza (Elizabeth) Schuyler Hamilton.

She loved, adored and supported him despite his tawdry affair with Mrs. Mariah Reynolds.  

Eliza lived for fifty years after Alexander's death.


My American friends will know that Alexander Hamilton was killed in an avoidable duel  with former Vice-President Aaron Burr, at  a bluff on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River.

The duel  destroyed the aspirations and political hopes of Burr.

But it exalted the status of  Hamilton. His long funeral procession took two hours from its  beginning to the end at Trinity  Church, Wall St, New York.

Hamilton's remains, and those of Eliza are buried in the Trinity Church graveyard.


Thomas Jefferson  does not emerge well in Chernow's book.  He, Jefferson, comes forth as manipulative and cunning.

Nor does John Adams emerge well.   Nobody liked/likes Adams except for his wife Abigail (and Adams' modern  day biographer David McCullough).


I have next to no investment in Hamilton's life but I know that he was brilliant. 

Agree with me or not, but do not pass judgment  until you have read all 43 chapters and 731 pages of Chernow's book.

And as you do so please note Ron Chernow's editorial comments:

Page 534 " Hamilton was incapable of a wise silence "   and

Page 619 "he had a serious (?) (capacity? ) for the self inflicted wound, and was capable of marching off a cliff". 

"Aye"  (as the Scots  might say) "there's the rub"

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