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100-pages in: Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.

There will come a time when I stop talking about Hamilton, either the musical or its eponym. This is not that time. I absolutely loved the musical and it sparked an interest in Alexander Hamilton that has led my library to grow by three biographies. Of these three, the most recent acquisition is also the longest, and my current read.

I knew when I chose this as my souvenir from the theatre that it was not going to be a quick read. It’s long; 818 pages and the font is smaller than you find in most books. Also, whilst, I have read some non-fiction in the past, it’s not my go-to genre. I sometimes struggle to retain information, predominantly dates and locations, so a history book is definitely outside of my reading comfort zone.

Documenting such an accomplished life was always going to create a dense book, Hamilton was non-stop and as a result so is this book; facts and figures (really impressive figures – Hamilton knew how to network!) at every turn. He had little space to breath and digest and neither do we. Although information heavy, this is a book whose facts do not force it to stutter around them. The prose flows and is easy to read and follow.

I am reading this approximately two chapters at a time, not because I’m not enjoying reading it but because that’s about as much as I can digest at a time. I am also not forcing myself to pick it up, this is a book that you really need to be engaged with. I really want to leave this book feeling as though I have not only learned more about Hamilton and that period of American history but can also be able to recall at least some of the facts and dates. The only stumbling block I am encountering with this approach is that sometimes, upon re-opening it, I may need to go back a few pages to recap the moment. There is an app called Instaread – discovered through Twitter – which, as far as I can tell provides 15 – 30-minute summaries of books with recaps and analysis. I think I will probably give this a go for this book.

At page 106, even if this could easily be used as a very effective doorstop, I would recommend this account. Sure it may take a few months to get through, and yes, you may need to recap a few times but this is not a biography that can be described as dry. It flows with eloquence whilst humanising all the people and experiences in involved. Chernow’s respect for this time period, Hamilton, his friends, foes, acquaintances, achievements, and blunders is evident.

What are you currently reading? What is your favourite non-fiction book? Have you read this one? Let me know in the comments.


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