... moving and masterly...by far the best biography ever written about the man ... Other writers have done better jobs describing Hamilton's political philosophy, but nobody has captured Hamilton himself as fully and as beautifully as Chernow ... Hamilton's relationship with his wife and family is one of the revelations of this book ... [Hamilton's] widow outlived him by 50 years, trying vainly to repair his reputation against the assaults from the Jeffersonians. As Chernow is aware, this book finally accomplishes her task.
... as Chernow’s comprehensive and superbly written biography makes clear, Hamilton was at least as influential as any of our Founding Fathers in shaping our national institutions and political culture ... Chernow acknowledges Hamilton’s arrogance, his bouts of self-pity, and his penchant for cynical manipulation. But this self-made man was capable of great compassion and was consistently outraged by the institution of slavery. Although his understanding of human limitations made him suspicious of unrestrained democracy, his devotion to individual liberty did not falter.
... gripping ... an elegantly written, richly detailed account of Hamilton’s tempestuous life and it gives as good an understanding of revolutionary America as anything I’ve read ... what Chernow’s book so wonderfully captures, was the energy, valour, ambition and idealism that characterised Hamilton’s life and still characterises the bold republic that he fought so bravely and determinedly to build.
Chernow’s depiction of [Hamiltion's] life, while doing full justice to his achievements, is less concerned with explicating what they were (which he does with exemplary clarity and conciseness) than with their role in fulfilling a restless ambition that ultimately proved self-destructive ... Anyone who has heard of Alexander Hamilton knows that he is going to wind up with Burr on a dueling ground in Weehawken, New Jersey. Chernow is too good a craftsman not to follow the path that led Burr as well as Hamilton to that confrontation ... Chernow’s book is remarkable not for any new disclosures or novel interpretations, but for his unblinkered view of Hamilton’s thought and behavior in a time that generated in him and so many others the capacity to do what none of them had previously dreamed of ... It has been said that Hamilton was a great man but not a great American. Chernow’s Hamilton is both.
... a mammoth work of research that charted the course of Hamilton’s dazzling career and the dark controversies that accompanied it ... Chernow’s book serves as a reminder that the raw partisanship and personal hostility we see today in the Clinton-Trump contest is far from unprecedented.
... does for New York’s Revolutionary hero what David McCullough did recently for John Adams ... Chernow has a feel for both finance and New Yorkers ... Look at what America became: a powerhouse of commerce and finance built by a diverse mix of striving urban cultures. That required an atmosphere of tolerance so that different ethnic groups could coexist, and a set of marketplace mechanisms that would reward enterprise. Chernow’s rich story of Hamilton’s influence, like Shorto’s history of early Manhattan, helps us see how these attributes arose out of the pluralistic cauldron of Van der Donck’s village.
To call Chernow's Hamilton compendious is understatement. Every place Hamilton, his parents, or his wife visited over a century's time is described at length; everyone he met merits at least a minor biographical digression. The result is exhausting ... Unfortunately, Chernow, in his first foray into the 18th century, leans too heavily on outdated antiquarian sources as a substitute for deep archival research. Not at all at home in the foreign country of that century, despite the fact that he traveled widely in Hamilton's and his family's footsteps, he depends too much on the kind of history served up by amateur old-house historians and innkeepers. As a result, his account of Hamilton's early life in the Caribbean, for example, blurs centuries and reads like an old-fashioned Errol Flynn-style bodice ripper ... a line Chernow crosses [is] imagining more than he can prove ... Not satisfied with modern scholarship, Chernow prefers to fall back on a century-old canard and posit an alternate father for Hamilton: Edward Stevens, the family friend who took in the youth at 13, when his mother died. What is Chernow's proof? ... while the literate Chernow still excels as an old-time, armchair raconteur, providing many enjoyable asides for the history buff, his first foray into the 18th century has to be deemed a misadventure.
... unlike many biographies that consider Hamilton only in Washington’s shadow, this one grants him a life of his own—and a stirring one at that, for Hamilton was both intensely cerebral and a man of action ... Literate and full of engaging historical asides. By far the best of the many lives of Hamilton now in print, and a model of the biographer’s art.
Chernow's achievement is to give us a biography commensurate with Hamilton's character, as well as the full, complex context of his unflaggingly active life ... Chernow makes fresh contributions to Hamiltoniana: no one has discovered so much about Hamilton's illegitimate origins and harrowed youth; few have been so taken by Hamilton's long-suffering, loving wife, Eliza. Yet it's hard not to cringe at some of Hamilton's hotheaded words and behavior, especially sacrificing the well-being of his family on the altar of misplaced honor. This is a fine work that captures Hamilton's life with judiciousness and verve.