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Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth Hardcover – February 15, 2002


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Product Details

  • Series: American Political Thought
  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas (February 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700611576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700611577
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,019,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"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

From the Back Cover

"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


More About the Author

Dr. Stephen Knott is a Professor of National Security Affairs at the United States Naval War College in Newport, RI. Prior to accepting his position at the Naval War College, Knott was Co-Chair of the Presidential Oral History Program at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. He also served for seven years as an Associate Professor in the Political Science Department at the United States Air Force Academy. His books include "The Reagan Years"; "Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth"; "Secret and Sanctioned: Covert Operations and the American Presidency"; "At Reagan's Side: Insiders' Recollections from Sacramento to the White House"; and "Rush to Judgment: George W. Bush, the War on Terror, and His Critics." His forthcoming book, "Washington & Hamilton: The Alliance that Forged America," will be published by Sourcebooks in August, 2015, and is being co-authored with Tony Williams, the author of numerous books on the American founding.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lara Brown on April 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Knott provides us with a clear account of Hamilton's philosophical contributions and a compelling story about the uncertainty with which Americans approach his legacy. This book is masterful in detailing the competing political agendas and in framing how politicians, acamedicians, and pundits use the Founders and their rhetoric to push forward their own agendas. A wonderful book that helps us understand our American political culture, as much as one of our country's most important Founding Fathers.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By JMK on December 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
When one looks at American political history, we tend to analyze the issues at the surface without realizing the ideology that influenced policies over the last 200 years. Stephen Knott developed a unique method at extracting the driving force behind American history. His thesis is that Alexander Hamilton was so influential in the development of the American government and economic system that his ideology has loomed in the background of every major period in U.S. history.

Mr. Knott provides research on historians, authors, and politicians of the last 200 years who have provided favorable and/or critical analysis of Hamilton's influence on American government and policy. What Knott was successful in proving was the point that Hamilton has had an effect, for better or for worse, on nearly every presidential administration. He also demonstrated how these administrations tended to attribute their policies to either Hamilton or Thomas Jefferson. The rivalry that began while both worked in George Washington's administration has continued to this day.

While unique and informative, this particular book on Hamilton does have one major drawback. Knott eventually shows his admiration for Hamilton. However, although he wisely references the negative material against Hamilton made by politicians and historians over the years, he tends to dwell on one particular comment that has not even been completely proven: the supposed quote that was used to show Hamilton's preference for a monarchy when he called the general public 'the beast'. Knott concludes his book by saying that most of the negative comments made towards Hamilton are not warranted, especially that particular quote. He does not help his own position with his constant referral to that quote throughout his book.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By lovedmc12 on March 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Finally! A compelling defense of the Founder second only to Washington in terms of indespensibility to the creation and greatness of this county. Professor Knott chronicles the roller-coaster ride of Hamilton's reputation, from his murder by the scoundral Burr to the present. He presents overwhelming evidence that General Hamilton has been abused by critics, historians and Jefferson-lovers alike. Knott's painstaking history of the apochryphal "great beast" comment provides a frightening lesson of how a single malicious report can turn even a great man's historical reputation upside down. The fact that Mr. Hamilton's solitary statue stands ignored at the back door of the Treasury Department while Mr. Jefferson is surrounded by marble and carved words perfectly illustrates how the myth of greatness trumps the reality of greatness. Professor Knott's conclusion that "a return to Hamiltonianism" could fix much of what ails American politics is right on the money. Fantastic book.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Scamp Lumm on November 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"fall for anything."

Construction on the myth began years before Alexander Hamilton died on July 12, 1804. It surely got its nurturing from the National Gazette started in 1791 by Philip Freneau, Madison's Princeton roommate, and Thomas Jefferson. And it surely had its fires flaming during the fallout from Hamilton's Reynolds Affair which tainted his career from then on. From the get go, Hamilton's image was tarnished. He didn't fall for anything however. The day he died is the same day as the battle of the Boyne where the catholic, Stuart King James II and his Jacobites were defeated by the protestant William III, of Orange. Another Hamilton had died in a duel on November 15, 1712 in Hyde Park in London. Although his birth was deemed illegit, Alexander Hamilton was of noble lineage; his father's family was derived from the Scottish, ducal line of Hamilton.

Stephen F. Knott's book is not a biography; it's more of a thoughtful, unbiased tracing of pundits' and politicians' interpretation/opinion of his work in American government through the years up to the present. It is a must read for anyone who attempts to judge Hamilton's person because the historical record is replete with misrepresentations of his life's work. Knott's analysis is thorough; you'll understand the bias behind any biographer who studies him. I believe one best understands Hamilton from his own writings and those scholars who studied them as Knott did. Knott shows that Hamilton has been labelled a fascist, a monarchist, a Napoleon, a dictator, a Caesar by mostly Jeffersonians who were content with superficial studies of his life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Phillip Hadden on September 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a great analysis of a man's legacy throughout history. As a previous reviewer noted this is not a biography of Alexander Hamilton, the author expects you to know things about Hamilton when you read his book. If looking for a great biography for Hamilton the one written by Ron Chernow is amazing. In Chernow's biography he gives a stirring defense of Hamilton by examining the motives for his actions. This book examines how throughout history those who either opposed Hamiltonian views during Hamilton's lifetime or opposed them to further their political career did so by taking his actions only at face value or just outright lying about them. It examines how during the age of Jackson, the Jacksonian's wanted to create Hamilton as an enemy to eliminate the BUS. It also examines how during the progressive era of our nation the likes of Wilson and FDR used Hamiltonian views as a scape goat for failed policies. A previous review comments on how the author is visibly pro Hamilton but at the same time I don't discredit the book for that, I had already figured that out by the title. I will say that this book is a bit hard to get through, and unless you're really interested in the subject you'll probably put it down. It's history rich with commentary from Hamilton but as one gets more into the 20th century views the author bombards you with countless names of historians of little significance, and they're a challenge to keep up with who is who. This isn't to say that some of the times are unimportant such as Bowers or Zinn, but those are just two out of the 15 (I exaggerate) or so.
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