Book review: Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Alexander HamiltonAlexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is the inspiration for the Broadway musical (and cultural) smash “Hamilton” (and, in fact, the author receives royalties from the musical). I have mixed feelings about this biography and mixed feelings about the subject. Alexander Hamilton was clearly a brilliant man, excellent administrator, and masterful as the first Secretary of the Treasury. He was also vain, overly sensitive, and an irresponsible husband and father. The author has done some excellent research on the less well-known aspects of Hamilton’s life, specifically, the circumstances of his birth and upbringing on St. Croix. But he also falls into the biographer’s pitfall: falling in love with his subject. The portrayal of Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds is enough to make a reader cringe (Maria Reynolds must have been in love with Alexander–never mind the minor detail that she and her husband blackmailed him over it). And the portrayals of Hamilton’s political enemies–Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and, of course, Aaron Burr–are far from objective.
That being said, this is a solid biography of a complex, complicated, and insecure man who was instrumental in the formation of the United States. In addition, one of the most endearing characteristics of the author is the credit he gives and his portrayal of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton as a partner in Hamilton’s accomplishments and someone who ensures that his legacy lives on after Hamilton’s death.
In illuminating a relatively unknown Founding Father, the author does an excellent job of bringing Hamilton to life and showcasing his considerable accomplishments. Alexander Hamilton is the quintessential American story–a poor immigrant succeeding based on his abilities and work ethic. It is a story well worth learning.

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Water Gun Fight (aka Enjoying the Summer)

Our rising 9th grader (or, more accurately, our 14 year old son) decided that what was needed to make the summer more fun was a water gun fight with a bunch of friends.  He cleared the date and time with us, issued invitations to his friends (by text, of course), and on the appointed day, another eight 14 year old boys and girls showed up all ready to do battle.  (Most appropriate for a Quaker school, we thought.)

Weaponry and ammunition were provided:


I can’t guarantee that a good time was had by all, but I can guarantee that EVERYONEwas sopping wet by the time the battle was over.



As our son described it, “Best day ever!”

4th of July in Nantucket

We were kindly invited by some good friends to join them in Nantucket for the 4th of July weekend.  Nantucket is one of the very few places on the East coast that reminds of us God’s country (otherwise known as the West coast).

There were magnificent sunsets:

sunset on Nantucket

sunset on Nantucket


Fun 4th of July fireworks (lit off on the 3rd of July but why quibble?);

on the beach for fireworks

on the beach for fireworks

A town water gun fight on the actual 4th of July (let’s just say that no one escaped unscathed from the battle):


A parfait-making contest:


And fabulous food, with many home-cooked meals, and a wonderful dining experience at American Seasons (to be blogged about on a later blog post).

It was a wonderful four days of rest and relaxation and good times and friendship.  And, by the way, Happy Birthday, America!