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Paper Biographies

Chernow, Alexander Hamilton | Duel : Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Future of America | Burr, Hamilton, and Jefferson : A Study in Character | Alexander Hamilton, American | A Fatal Friendship: Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr | Burr

Chernow, Alexander Hamilton

Amazon. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.

"Hamilton: a flawed portrait" by Willard Sterne Randall, Boston Globe (May 2004). Scathing review of Chernow's historical method (Subtitle: "Chernow supposes too much and verifies too little.").

"A deeper problem is one of proof. Chernow all too frequently uses speculative constructions such as ''must have," ''it seems," ''one can hazard an educated guess." There are limits to the degree of supposition in history and biography that are stricter than those in historical fiction. It is a line Chernow crosses, imagining more than he can prove."
"Chernow brushes aside the evidence gathered and sifted by the editors of Hamilton's papers at Columbia, which is based on sworn Danish probate court testimony by Hamilton's uncle and guardian. At the same time, he claims that no other biographer has ever thoroughly mined these papers."

Short excerpt from Chernow's Hamilton (the revolution reaches New York), with an audio version too. Also at the Denver Post and MSNBC.

"'Inspired Windbag' Who Molded the U.S. Government" review by Janet Maslin (April 2004).

"The latter half of 'Alexander Hamilton' is the more vivid, perhaps because the man was left adrift and reckless after a meteoric early career. In time the residue of political infighting tainted Hamilton's reputation and colored his legacy. This book's most influential argument is that Hamilton was enduringly ill-served by the image-shaping abilities of Jefferson and others."

Excerpt on Hamilton as Treasury Secretary from Business Week.

Review by Steve Weinberg, St. Louis Post-Dispatch (April 2004).

"Chernow's Hamilton is a success. Rarely does a biographer uncover so much new information about a long-dead, much-chronicled individual. Rarely does a biographer fill in the gaps with such incisive, justified speculation. Rarely does a biographer write narrative so well."

"Ron Chernow offers an engrossing biography of 'Alexander Hamilton'" review by Steve Raymond, The Seattle Times (April 2004).

"This isn't a book to take to the beach this summer, unless you're planning to spend summer on a desert island. It requires a substantial investment of time and attention. But, as Alexander Hamilton might have said, you can be assured the investment will pay handsome returns, plus interest."

"Creating Capitalism" review by David Brooks, New York Times (April 2004). Good summary of what makes Hamilton interesting; not much on the book per se.

"The life of an unsung founding father" review by Roger Bishop.

"Intellectual warrior" review by Duane Davis, Rocky Mountain News (April 2004).

"Chernow seems incapable of leaving out anything he has dug up in his research. Thus, we are treated to thumbnail biographies not only of the essential players, but also of all-too-many walk-ons as well. "

San Francisco Chronicle review by Justin Martin. Positive.

Washington Post review by Michael Lind (May 2004), appearing in the Miami Herald.

Duel : Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Future of America

Amazon. Duel : Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Future of America by Thomas Fleming.

Review of Fleming's Duel by Katharine Whittemore for Salon.

"To be as masterfully concise as Fleming manages to be is an achievement in itself, for this epic would have challenged Tolstoy. The author deftly ushers us through the Gordian strands of the early American political scene and onto the world stage, where Napoleon reigned, then telescopes back to a meticulously reconstructed page-turner recounting the events leading to the killing that sadly reunites the various threads. The men were larger than life; the stakes included our new Constitution and world domination. In the end, "Duel" does a scintillating job of restoring salient edges that decades of historical buffing have rounded."

Excerpt from Duel, "Chapter One: A General Nurses His Wounds" at the Washington Post.

Burr, Hamilton, and Jefferson : A Study in Character

Amazon. Burr, Hamilton, and Jefferson : A Study in Character by Roger G. Kennedy. The author attempts to rehabilitate Burr.

Short, negative review by Matt Williams for the Austin Chronicle.

"After thoroughly dismissing Hamilton as guilty of all the deadly sins save perhaps gluttony, using the rigorous scientific technique of pseudo-Freudian analysis of selected letters, Kennedy exonerates Burr from Jefferson's charges of treason by pointing out that Burr disliked Benedict Arnold. Burr is hardly the villainous cad Jefferson made him out to be, but clearing his name by a similar method is an intellectually dishonest exercise."

"The Man who Would be King" Anonymous author, from Free Times Inc. Extensive review of both Burr, Hamilton and Jefferson and Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr and the Future of America.

Burr, Hamilton, and Jefferson : A Study in Character by Roger G. Kennedy. Blurb from Oxford University Press. More publicity.

Alexander Hamilton, American

Amazon. Alexander Hamilton, American by Richard Brookhiser. Also available in hardcover.Review by Brian C. Anderson for

Web Archive: "The Mixed Legacy of Alexander Hamilton." Review by Terry Eastland The American Spectator, August 1999.

A Fatal Friendship: Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr

Amazon. A Fatal Friendship : Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr by Arnold A. Rogow. Also available in hardcover. Rogow attempts to rehabilitate Burr, although not as thoroughly as Roger Kennedy.

Interview with Arnold Rogow, author of A Fatal Friendship: Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, 1998. Transcript from Booknotes. Brian Lamb, host.

"I think opinions are beginning to change about Jefferson. He's coming under some more critical view than he has been through in the past. Hamilton, I think, is also becoming perhaps more critically viewed, but not Burr. Burr's reputation continues to be as well as it ever was, and I don't expect my book to have any real impact on that."

Booknotes: Interview with Arnold Rogow. Includes a transcript, and a classroom guide. Includes much on dueling and the fatal due.


Amazon. Burr by Gore Vidal in paperback (Vintage) and hardcover (Modern Library). Acclaimed novel. Amazon has over 24 reader reviews.

LibraryThing: Catalog your books online.

If you enjoy this site you may like these other sites by me:

Andrew Jackson on the Web. Everything about "Old Hickory," President Andrew Jackson. new

Duels and Dueling on the Web. Comprehensive guide to sword and pistol dueling in Europe and the Americas.

D-Day on the Web. Everything about the Normandy landings.