Review – Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

 

HamiltonAlexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Kindle Edition, 860 pages. Published March 29, 2005 by Penguin Books. ASIN: B000QJLQZI

 

 


These are notes for a review of Ron Chernow’s excellent biography of Alexander Hamilton. Beginning in my last Afghanistan tour, I became interested in the evolution of U.S. foreign policy. What did the founders really think, and how did they act. I had an embarrassingly weak grasp on the early years of our republic and reading time on my hands. I’m not sure why I never completed the Chernow review–perhaps it coincided with my redeployment and I just got busy. At any rate, here are the notes, and I will endeavor to flesh them out if I get the time.


 

Hagiography

hostile and unfair to Madison

Not as much speculation as Madison and Washington biographies, but still too much–especially as it pertains to his relations with Eliza.

Decline as he aged.  More conservative, more fearful.

Gouvernor Morris’s odd post-mortem claim that H favored monarchism

Interesting parallels to D.P Moynihan (October Atlantic)

Comparison to Reagan Democrats–baby boomers for revolution in their youth who transition to reflexive conservatism in their middle age.

Clear effects of the personal losses he suffered on his outlook.  Chernow’s claims regarding whether H was or was not suicidal are highly suspect.

Ultimately, Chernow is reluctant to admit that Hamilton after 40 was not Hamilton before 40. He became a less important, less bold, and ultimately less effective leader as he took greater council of his fears. Given a largely free rein by Washington, he operated boldly and brilliantly. Challenged and distrusted by Adams, out of government (mostly), and with most of his grandest ideas implemented, he slipped into partisanship for the sake of partisanship and personal animosity. Emphasize the 18th C party as cult of personality.

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