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Showing 1-10 of 31 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 39 reviews
on December 23, 2014
This is a well written - though terse pair of biographies of two Secretaries of the Treasury. I found the book 'disappointing' for the same reasons as the first reviewer (R. Albin) on this list: the promise (or implication?) of the title is not delivered.

The biographies are short - fact filled and interesting, but contain nothing that hasn't been said before. And in the case of Hamilton, it is vastly trumped by Ron Chernow's epic "Alexander Hamilton" (though, in fairness, Chernow spends 800 pages on that 'trump'). Author Thomas McCraw does provide occasional insight that the immigrant nature of these men gave them unique perceptions of government, military, taxation, and banking. But... if you hope to learn more about the minds of these men as it relates to the details of finance you may come away disappointed. In a much earlier work, Professor Clinton Rossiter was able to analyze Hamilton's political mind with astonishing effectiveness in Alexander Hamilton and the Constitution. That kind of dissection is not even attempted here.

The book is, however, an easy read and informative. McCraw shows an even-handed approach to the Federalist - Republican political brawl (Hamilton - Jefferson), a subject on which some historians fall prey to airing their own convictions. If the read is your first for either of these two great men - you very well may rate this book higher than my tepid 3-star "Its OK", but as earlier said, these biographies have been done before and for me the promise (hope?) of financial analysis was not delivered, or at most reflected in broad philosophies rather than a detailed examination.
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on July 18, 2015
Thomas McCraw's book is an great illuminating look into the United States first generation of government financiers. Readers who aren't familiar with Alexander Hamilton's accomplishments will find this is a useful book to read. McCraw doesn't delve into complicated financial instruments. He does take the time to explain Hamilton's actions. He smoothly transitions to the career of Gallatin giving a the reader a uninterrupted view of US financial developments in the 1st 50 years of the 19th century. A second line of analysis which winds its way through the book is the fact that the US had no experts in finance initially and had to rely on recently arrived immigrants to get the federal on a sound financial footing. Any student of the time period and subject will also find the book has a wealth of bibliographical foot notes pointing readers of this tome towards other avenues and aspects of American financial history. These notes consume about half the actual book; McCraw also tacks on several unifying chapters to explain common threads in the lives of these men. Little time is spent on their personal lives except where it figures into their professional lives. Still a great read for those unfamiliar with this aspect of US History!
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on March 30, 2017
The book should be a requirement in our school system and quotable by every politician. This was a great read.
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on May 8, 2013
The title of this book, in all honesty, makes it sound drab and boring to most readers; however, I was thoroughly impressed at the author's ability to weave the finance into the intriguing history of the United States. The dichotomy of these two men, how they both disdained yet complimented each other is fascinating. The author makes finance more understandable through the telling of the history of the United States, which is impressive in and of itself. The arguments posed by government and men, then and now, are almost identical when it comes to the convergence of finance and politics. An unexpectedly enjoyable book that was much easier to read than anticipated, I highly recommend it to all as it gives the reason a better understanding of what is going on in the United States and throughout the world today.
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on April 21, 2017
Very interesting book!
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on January 22, 2013
I have read many books about American History that covered the time period from 1750 to 1865. This one of the best books that I have ever read about early American History. This is a brilliant analysis of the finance, economics and politics of this time period and with insights that carry forward to the present day. The philosophical differences between Jefferson and Hamilton, The Federalists and Republicans are explained very clearly. The writing style is simple and clear and yet difficult concepts are made easy to understand. Having read several books on this time period, this book illuminates and clarifies allot of issues for this time period. I wish this book could have continued for another 200 pages, it was such an enjoyable read.
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on July 9, 2015
Hamilton and Gallatin were genius in founding policies and institutions that created the greatest political economy of all time. Current events are but a reflection of the times of their lives better understood with knowledge of those times. Additionally, this book explains how sectional interests, desires for strong/weak national government and agrarian/industrial economies influenced our history.
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on August 20, 2013
All the major players in the Revolution and how our system of finances grew from the dreams of a young immigrant with no schooling and an educated immigrant with a business background. We learn exactly why the Federal Reserve Building in DC has the statues of Gallatin AND Hamilton at its entrances. Of equal interest is the relationship among Hamilton and Washington versus Madison and Jefferson. The author paints some of the most illustrious of our Founders in a not-so-flattering light, while others of less glamorous backgrounds contributed enormously to their adopted country.
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Most people have heard about Hamilton and his contribution to the Nation's financial system, but this book also teaches us about who Gallatin is and his huge influence on the system as well. Finely written. Worth reading.
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on January 11, 2013
This very well written narrative about the key early financial leaders of this country throws a bright light on the issues they faced and reflects on issues that confound resolution of today's issues such as the national debt; the role of the federal government versus the individual; Federal versus states" rights; and, public services as basic as mail delivery and public health. Any reader who wants to gain a balanced understanding for today's dilemmas can benefit by delving into this trove of reflections on how things were, and were not, resolved in times of yore.
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