Alexander Hamilton, American

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9780786219872: Alexander Hamilton, American
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Alexander Hamilton is one of the least understood, most important, and most impassioned and inspiring of the founding fathers.
An impoverished immigrant when he first came to American shores at age fifteen, Hamilton defined what it meant to be American in an age when the definition was up for grabs. He pounced on the opportunities available in New York and rose rapidly as a patriot, war hero, prominent lawyer, pioneering journalist, and author of two-thirds of The Federalist Papers. An aide to Washington in the Revolutionary war, he was named the first Secretary of the Treasury at the age of thirty-two, in which post he audaciously mapped a system of law and finance that almost single-handedly lifted the new nation into a capitalist era. His economic vision was expansive, celebratory, idealistic, and yet also pragmatic. He deserves to be honored today as the founding father of American capitalism.
As the author of so many of The Federalist Papers, not to mention Washington's Farewell Address and several key arguments used by Chief Justice John Marshall, Hamilton fashioned key elements of the American political system. As the founder of the New York Post, and one of the most prolific writers in the age of pamphleteers like Tom Paine, Hamilton also deserves to be remembered as one of the fathers of American journalism. Finally, as evidenced by his extraordinary preemptive confession of a sexual affair and subsequent blackmailing, Hamilton deserves to be remembered for an honesty, passion, and conviction that was as rare in his day as it is in ours.

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Review:

The man on the $10 bill is probably the most overlooked Founding Father. This book--not a names-and-dates biography, but an appreciation and assessment in the tradition of Plutarch--should help change that. Richard Brookhiser is an outstanding writer well known for his previous books (especially the wonderful Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington) and journalism (in National Review and the New York Observer); Hamilton could not have asked for a better advocate. A signer of the Constitution and author of roughly two-thirds of the Federalist Papers, Hamilton became the first secretary of the treasury at the age of 32. In this capacity, Brookhiser argues that the scrappy Caribbean native gave birth to American capitalism by developing the country's financial system. Brookhiser also reveals the sex and violence of Hamilton's life: he survived personal scandal but was shot down by Aaron Burr in an 1804 duel. The end came too soon for Hamilton--and it also helped elevate the reputation of his nemesis, Thomas Jefferson. Alexander Hamilton: American is by turns learned, funny, and inspiring. A model of popular biography, it convinces us why we should care deeply about a remarkable man who lived two centuries ago. --John Miller

About the Author:

Richard Brookhiser is a Senior Editor at The National Review and a New York Observer columnist.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

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