33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Flawed giant in History, who should not have been president,
This review is from: Alexander Hamilton (Hardcover)
I found this book much more engaging than McCullough's bio of John Adams. Of the founding fathers' bios that I have read, Hamilton may be the one I would most like to have spent a long dinner listening to his ideas and political concerns. Part of his quality is his underdog status. A poor immigrant who was probably the only founding father to personify the American hope of rags-to-riches.
As with almost all the other founding fathers, whose biographies I have read, Thomas Jefferson played a significant role. As with some of these founding fathers, Jefferson played a villainous role. I am still trying to find enough reason to glorify Jefferson, but the guy needed a good kick in the rear.
Chernow provides excellent refutation of the Jeffersonian inspired negative images of Hamilton as an enemy of democracy and an aristocrat. In a manner that would have made Hamilton proud, the author seems to take pleasure in noting the hypocrisy of the aristocratic Jefferson, and Madison attacking Hamilton who actually put his life on the line to win independence from Britain, and who may have been the first to have called for the Constitutional Convention to make this land into an actual country. If the British ever saw Jefferson, it was only to glimpse the back of his horse as he fled to the hills at the first sight of a redcoat.
Less happy for Hamilton is the author's honest assessment of Hamilton's weaknesses, of which there were many. This is why any current day opponents of Hamilton (e.g., state rights exponents) would have to agree that this is a well-balanced treatment of its subject. After finishing this book, I concluded that Hamilton would have been the brightest, and hardest working president in history, but his temperament would have surely doomed his administration.
Hopefully, text book writers will incorporate the information in this book and give proper status for our students of this incredible, but flawed man.