This is a book I came across a few months ago at the library (although I’m writing this in the beginning of October, so I found this the last week of September), and since it had Hamilton on the front, of course I picked it up. I have a deep obsession with Alexander Hamilton, thanks to me jumping on the Lin-Manuel Miranda bandwagon. I haven’t seen the show yet, but I know all the lyrics by heart.
I do own the Kindle version of the Chernow biography, bought because I needed something long to read on a trip to Europe last year, but I never finished it. I found that it was very hard to keep my interested. Alexander Hamilton: Revolutionary by Martha Brockenbrough solves that problem. Of course, it is a teen biography, but I did find it informative.
The biography starts with Hamilton’s mother and childhood in the West Indies, but moves relatively quickly through his younger and teen years, dumping the reader in American by page 29. From there, it covers Hamilton’s early college years, his time in the Revolutionary War, and his part in building the US government.
I thought I knew a lot about Hamilton’s history from the play, although I knew there were some major differences. I wasn’t expecting there to be so much that the biography detailed that the play glossed over — and, on the flip side, how much the play covered that this biography glossed over. Like it barely mentions Angelica, or even much about Phillip Hamilton aside from his duel and its outcome. We don’t even get to know much about Alexander’s children!
Brockenbrough has even included several mini-guides at the back of the book to finances, government, rules for duels, major battles of the Revolutionary War, and more. There’s a timeline of Hamilton’s life, as well as a short passage on what happened to Burr once he’d killed Hamilton. (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t pretty.)
Overall, I think this is a great introduction to the the $10 Founding Father. There are a lot of pictures, and I enjoyed finding new facts about Hamilton I didn’t know. For example, I didn’t know he had been at Valley Forge. While there are a few gaps, I think overall, it’s great for teenagers, or adults who have a passing interesting in Hamilton or just want to know what the entire fuss is about but doesn’t want to commit to a 500+ page behemoth of a tome.
In terms of a YA Biography, I’d give this a 4/5 stars. There are some things I would’ve appreciated further information on, and some things that I feel like were just extra. If you’ve already read a Hamilton biography, you can probably skip this one. If you’re a Hamilton enthusiast, or if you’ve never read anything about him before, this is probably a great place to start. With the double-spread maps throughout the book, and the numerous portraits, you will never be lost as to who is who and what is what.
Complex, passionate, brilliant, flawed—Alexander Hamilton comes alive in this exciting biography.
He was born out of wedlock on a small island in the West Indies and orphaned as a teenager. From those inauspicious circumstances, he rose to a position of power and influence in colonial America.
Discover this founding father’s incredible true story: his brilliant scholarship and military career; his groundbreaking and enduring policy, which shapes American government today; his salacious and scandalous personal life; his heartrending end.
Richly informed by Hamilton’s own writing, with archival artwork and new illustrations, this is an in-depth biography of an extraordinary man.
- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
- Published: September 5, 2017
- ISBN-13: 978-1250123190
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta go raise a glass to freedom.
And as always, keep reading.