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Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth (American Political Thought) Paperback – February 15, 2002

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Product Details

  • Series: American Political Thought
  • Paperback: 348 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; New edition edition (February 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700614192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700614196
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,041,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"An important and lasting contribution to future debates about the Founding's meaning." -- First Things

"An important book." -- Claremont Review of Books

"Knott does a marvelous job of gathering all the different views of Hamilton and weaving them into an interesting narrative." -- David Brooks in The Weekly Standard

"Makes a compelling case for Hamilton's importance." -- History: Reviews of New Books

From the Back Cover

"A superb book about how and why one of the greatest of Americans has been one of the least appreciated. Knott's penetrating and sensitive account of the vicissitudes of Alexander Hamilton's public image over two centuries contains within it a subtle and profound commentary on the images Americans have had of themselves."--Forrest McDonald, author of Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution and The American Presidency

"Knott has done for Alexander Hamilton what Merrill Peterson did for Thomas Jefferson, and in the process he has made clear, as never before, the contours of American political history. No one interested in our national trajectory or in the current prospect can afford to ignore this fine book."--Paul A. Rahe, author of Republics Ancient and Modern

"Tracks the ups and downs of Hamilton on the stock market of historical reputation. Its appearance now is a welcome sign that a low-selling blue chip is recovering its true value."--Richard Brookhiser, author of Alexander Hamilton, American

"Fascinating and illuminating."--John Steele Gordon, author of Hamilton's Blessing

"An exceptional book--sweeping in scope, engagingly written, and highly informative."--Richard K. Matthews, author of If Men Were Angels

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By V. Benedetto on January 17, 2013
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Stephen Knott knows his subject matter! In a time when understanding our Founding Fathers (what they meant, what they stood for, and why they knew it to be right for mankind for all time) is more important then ever, Knott brings Hamilton into full view. Only then, can we see him more purely and better understand why he rightfully was, among the Founders, a lion. Hamilton's fingerprints are everywhere on our Nation... which is why understanding him more clearly, through a more accurate prism, is essential. 'Persistence of Myth' does this and more... - Vince Benedetto
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. A Newman VINE VOICE on October 7, 2011
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Alexander Hamilton has been dead since 1803 and remains a deeply devisive figure. Stephen Knott attempts to reconcile the US to Hamilton and his legacy, but undermines his case by overstating Hamilton's contributions and attempting to undermine the position of all of his subject's many rivals. This book though interesting is at times mean-spirited and as petty as Hamilton could be at times. It is probably the book that Hamilton deserves, but it is not the one that people who are interested in Hamilton should have to read.

Hamilton did enjoy a significant career. He was aide de camp to George Washington during the Revolutionary War (where he frequently clashed with his commanding officer), author of some of the Federalist Papers, political theorist, lawyer, Secretary of the Treasury who put the infant American republican on a firm financial foundation. This is the positive legacy of Hamilton.

Probably the reason that Hamilton's legacy is tainted is due to failures in his character. Aside from being inept as a political leader, Jefferson and even Adams can be said to run circles around him, Hamilton managed to clash with the first five presidents at one time or another. Possibly the only way he avoided clashes with John Quincy Adams was due to the latter's choice of overseas diplomatic postings during Hamilton's heyday.

Hamilton's fall came about during an investigation into alleged financial improprieties as Secretary of the Treasury. In a move that set any number of precedents, Hamilton confessed to adultery with one Maria Reynolds and the focus shifted away from the criminal charge of corruption to the moral one of adultery.
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