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Alexander Hamilton, American
ISBN 0684863316 / 9780684863313 / 0-684-86331-6
Publisher Simon & Schuster
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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 [via]