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Alexander Hamilton Audiobook, by Ron Chernow Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Ron Chernow Narrator: Grover Gardner Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2004 ISBN: 9780786553600
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New York Times Bestseller, and the inspiration for the hit Broadway musical Hamilton!

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow presents a landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation.


In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is “a robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all.”

Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow’s biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today’s America is the result of Hamilton’s countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. “To repudiate his legacy,” Chernow writes, “is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world.” Chernow here recounts Hamilton’s turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washington’s aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, coauthoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party, and becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States.Historians have long told the story of America’s birth as the triumph of Jefferson’s democratic ideals over the aristocratic intentions of Hamilton. Chernow presents an entirely different man, whose legendary ambitions were motivated not merely by self-interest but by passionate patriotism and a stubborn will to build the foundations of American prosperity and power. His is a Hamilton far more human than we’ve encountered before—from his shame about his birth to his fiery aspirations, from his intimate relationships with childhood friends to his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Monroe, and Burr, and from his highly public affair with Maria Reynolds to his loving marriage to his loyal wife Eliza. And never before has there been a more vivid account of Hamilton’s famous and mysterious death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July of 1804.

Chernow’s biography is not just a portrait of Hamilton, but the story of America’s birth seen through its most central figure. At a critical time to look back to our roots, Alexander Hamilton will remind readers of the purpose of our institutions and our heritage as Americans.

“Nobody has captured Hamilton better than Chernow” —The New York Times Book Review 

Ron Chernow's other biographies include: Grant, Washington, and Titan.

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Quotes & Awards

  • ...[N]obody has captured Hamilton better than Chernow... The New York Times Book Review

    "...[A] biography commensurate with Hamilton's character, as well as the full, complex context of his unflaggingly active life.... This is a fine work that captures Hamilton's life with judiciousness and verve." —Publishers Weekly

    "A splendid life of an enlightened reactionary and forgotten Founding Father. 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."—Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

    "A robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all." —Joseph J. Ellis, author of Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

    "A brilliant historian has done it again! The thoroughness and integrity of Ron Chernow’s research shines forth on every page of his Alexander Hamilton. He has created a vivid and compelling portrait of a remarkable man—and at the same time he has made a monumental contribution to our understanding of the beginnings of the American Republic.”—Robert A. Caro, author of The Power Broker and The Years of Lyndon Johnson

    "Alexander Hamilton was one of the most brilliant men of his brilliant time, and one of the most fascinating figures in all of American history. His rocketing life-story is utterly amazing. His importance to the founding of the new nation, and thus to the whole course of American history, can hardly be overstated. And so Ron Chernow's new Hamilton could not be more welcome. This is grand-scale biography at its best—thorough, insightful, consistently fair, and superbly written. It clears away more than a few shop-worn misconceptions about Hamilton, gives credit where credit is due, and is both clear-eyed and understanding about its very human subject. Its numerous portraits of the complex, often conflicting cast of characters are deft and telling. The whole life and times are here in a genuinely great book." —David McCullough, author of John Adams

  • “A brilliant historian has done it again! The thoroughness and integrity of Ron Chernow’s research shines forth…He has created a vivid and compelling portrait of a remarkable man—and at the same time he has made a monumental contribution to our understanding of the beginnings of the American Republic.”

    Robert A. Caro, author of The Power Broker and The Years of Lyndon Johnson

  • “A biography commensurate with Hamilton’s character, as well as the full, complex context of his unflaggingly active life…This is a fine work that captures Hamilton’s life with judiciousness and verve.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “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.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Nobody has captured Hamilton better than Chernow.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • A New York Times bestseller
  • A 2004 ALA Notable Book Finalist for Nonfiction
  • New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction, 2004
  • A 2004 New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book of the Year
  • A 2004 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Biography
  • A 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist for Biography

Listener Reviews

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  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ted | 2/20/2014

    " This is a damned good big biography of one of the most interesting figures in American history. Chernow takes us from Hamilton's mysterious Caribbean childhood to his Columbia education which a moving account of a hurricane in the island paper affords him to the battlefields of the revolution and George Washington's side, an unbelievable picaresque adventure if it wasn't true. From there, the biographer of the robber barons takes us into the structuring of the American economy. Hamilton comes off as genius, Jefferson comes off as evil, Madison treacherous, Washington wise (he guided and tamed Hamilton), Adams cranky and casting blame. Much more about sex scandals of the 1790s (Hamilton, Jefferson, Burr) than you'd ever thought there was. And in the end, the vice president shoots Hamilton in a duel several years after Hamilton's eldest son died the same way. And Aaron Burr turns out to have the blackest wit in the history of man ("If any male friend of yours should be dying of ennui, recommend him to engage in a duel and a courtship at the same time," "my friend Hamilton, who I shot"). Yes, entertaining and educational! "Ah, this is the constitution. Now, mark my words. So long as we are a young and virtuous people, this instrument will bind us together in mutual interests, mutual welfare, and mutual happiness. But when we become old and corrupt, it will bind us no longer." - Hamilton leaving office as Secretary of the Treasury, 1795 "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kaybates | 2/8/2014

    " Excellent. Our history books do us a disservice by not including more about Alexander Hamilton, and all the rest of our Founding Fathers, for that matter. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Greg | 2/7/2014

    " Provides great insight into the mind and works of one of the founding fathers, from his birth on St. Croix through the Constitutional Convention and beyond. Many parallels with the early American government and the fledgling Iraqi gov't. Dispels any myth that the unity of the states was assured from the start. Only with the persistent and persuasive writing of Hamilton was the Constitution ratified and the federation made strong. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Markhiller | 2/6/2014

    " One of my favorite (so far) on our founding fathers. A very interesing man coming up from very humble beginnings. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ben | 2/5/2014

    " spoiler: Burr did it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michele | 2/5/2014

    " Amazing book - got me started on a major founding fathers kick. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Scott | 2/5/2014

    " Excellent biography> Best of the crop of American history bios I seem to have been reaching for lately. Highly recommend this anyone who likes biographies. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chet | 2/4/2014

    " As close as I can get to reading Fiction, thank you Ron Chernow for the perfect summer book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 J. | 2/2/2014

    " Read this book subsequent to reading Chernow's book on Washington because his writing so captured me - he brought Washington to life as I have never known before - that I had to have more. Hamilton's story as told by Chernow did not disappoint. As with "Washington" I was enthralled with this amazing man's life. Like the Washington book, I felt as if I had actually met the man himself, and wanted more. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Donna | 2/1/2014

    " This is an important book to read because you will learn about a vision for the country that has endured for 225 years. It is also revealing to understand that the fight between governmentalists and libertarians has been continuous since the founding of the country, with governmentalists generally prevailing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Chris | 1/29/2014

    " The book that inspired me to go back to college. I think that if I reread it now I would probably not like it as much as I did when I first read it. However to me, it remains one of the greatest biographies that I have ever read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Doug | 1/28/2014

    " I learned that Alexander Hamilton was a very powerful and influential founding father. Even though he was not President he had as much influence or more then many of our first Presidents. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paul | 1/25/2014

    " I knew relatively little of Alexander Hamilton, that is until I visited the Island of Nevis in the Caribbean for the first time and discovered that this is where he was born and raised. On my second visit I had an opportunity to visit his home which is now a museum and historic site. The story of this great man peaked my interest and the desire to learn more about him after having a "connection" now to him as a result of that visit. Chernow does an excellent job of bringing the life of this man alive in the pages he authored, and makes the truth truly fascinating. People will be surprised at the almost "soap opera"-like elements that took place on Hamilton's life over 200 years ago...and how history tends to repeat itself. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 EricW | 1/18/2014

    " Strongly recommended. I don't expect to ever find a one-volume biography of Hamilton that's better than this one. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Russ | 1/18/2014

    " One of the more dynamic founders, Alexander Hamilton's role in the post revolutionary government was at times second only to George Washington. His Economic policies both saved a young struggling country and tied its fate to a philosophy which accepted and even encouraged public debt. The incredible accomplishments of his life seem to be overshadowed by his death (a duel with his one time friend Vice President Aaron Burr), his affair with Maria Reynolds (he published a book/pamplet laying out in great detail the evidence of his affair as a way to clear his public reputation...) and his spats with many in and out of his political circles. A great read and unique perspective about both Alexander Hamilton and the other actors during the Revolution. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Bill | 1/17/2014

    " Very informative but a bit slow. Probably deserves a re-read to absorb everything again. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mackenzie | 1/17/2014

    " A brilliant book about a brilliant man. Definitely a book that every American history or political science scholar should read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Del | 1/6/2014

    " An interesting view into the life of one of our least understood Founding Fathers. I especially enjoyed learning about his mizarre early life and how he overcame his unfortunate circumstances. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ex | 12/28/2013

    " Kind of a sloppy book, but enjoyable enough. Not as good as House of Morgan. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mike | 12/28/2013

    " Gripping story of one of the less well known of the founding fathers. A truly remarkable man, and very well told story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hans | 12/25/2013

    " Great book about a great man. Hamilton was in a way the ideal American, the self-created man, raised in poverty and then going on to becoming one of the most influential figures in American History. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ronald | 12/2/2013

    " It's a lot of information, but Hamilton had a big influence on our country. I especially liked learning about his relationship with Washington. They complemented each other well. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alan | 9/10/2013

    " Very interesting. A long detailed book but I learned a lot about Hamilton, his times and his importance in American history.. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eric | 9/5/2013

    " Crisp & engaging, it kept my attention throughout (quite a feat considering its heft). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michael | 8/7/2013

    " More credit should be given this founding father, who I've found to be my favorite. The book is quite detailed, but it's about time someone gave a detailed account of Hamilton. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Travis | 7/23/2013

    " Great book. A. Hamilton was the founding father that didn't own slaves, put foreign policy safely in the hands of the Presidency, and turned an office than should have been weak into a highly sought after appointment. Chernow turns Hamilton, definitely a human, into song. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steven | 7/2/2013

    " Interesting perspective on the man who seemed like the perpetual bad guy when I was growing up. This book tells us why, with a lifetime slander campaign against Hamilton perpetuated by Jefferson and Adams after his death. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pam | 6/12/2013

    " Detailed but wordy...couldn't make it all the way through. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Monica | 6/5/2013

    " Absolutely an amazing man. I had no idea how much Hamilton contributed to our country. Well worth the read. I had trouble putting it down. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chase | 5/15/2013

    " A good biography of a fascinating man. A bit longer than I would have liked (700+ pages) but I learned a ton, and Chernow is insightful and sympathetic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy | 4/1/2013

    " too many details in this book~ too hard for me to understand. I need a bigger brain. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 3/29/2013

    " Part of my period reading, this book by Chernow was also well written and presented a picture of a bright but very troubled member of our founding fathers. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Matt | 3/28/2013

    " An ardent self-improver and polyglot, Hamilton found time to learn the details and design the foundations of the American trade and taxation system while serving as Washington's aide-de-camp during the Revolutionary War. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Peter | 1/26/2013

    " A tad long, but Hamilton might be my favorite founding father now. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mike | 8/17/2012

    " Not a good read but filled with interesting facts "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jerry | 7/28/2012

    " Fascinating history. Hamilton was truly a "founding father". More than just a "duelist". Chernow was a bit wordy and juxtaposed time frames without good segues. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bradley | 7/14/2012

    " Amazing biography of an amazing man. Truly one of our finest founding fathers depicted by one of our finest authors. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bill | 7/4/2012

    " Well-written (if somewhat overwhelming) complete description of the life and career of our most astonishingly talented founding father. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Caroline | 5/4/2012

    " For those who remember the commercial in which the dude hears the trivia question "Who killed Alexander Hamilton in that famous duel?" and answers "Aaron Burr" with a mouth full of peanut butter, this book is for you. It was fascinating. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jonathan | 4/4/2012

    " Another excellent biography by Ron Chernow. Hamilton was one of the most brilliant and talented of the founding fathers, and his life was cut short way too soon. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Highly recommended to students of early American history. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 anthony | 2/27/2012

    " Fascinating biography of a lesser known founding father. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Caren | 2/23/2012

    " very interesting life. I enjoyed the early details that show why and how he became the man he did. Certainly one of the most underrated men of his time, and certainly one of the brightest of the group. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cathy | 2/9/2012

    " Dense book- it took me forever to read it. But well written & great subject matter- Hamilton was a very interesting guy! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Paul | 12/15/2011

    " Well researched book. This founding father was one of the brightest. He rivaled Jefferson in his intellect and foresight on the future of the union. Problem with Hamilton (and we all know one), he thought his shit didn't stink. No wonder Burr shot him. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eli | 10/27/2011

    " Best biography I've read, though I have not read that many. Very interesting from start to finish. What a life he led. Yeah, he made quite a few mistakes later in life but he accomplished so much at such an early age. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Esther | 10/13/2011

    " Historically accurate, though he was a controversial character. The feuds he was in made for some slightly biased descriptions of other people. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Doug | 9/7/2011

    " I learned that Alexander Hamilton was a very powerful and influential founding father. Even though he was not President he had as much influence or more then many of our first Presidents. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Edward | 5/11/2011

    " A great book about a strange guy. This is long and it should be. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gabriel | 4/21/2011

    " To be counted among a paltry two or three texts for which I have upon reaching the end wept. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eugene | 4/14/2011

    " A great look at the first treasury secretary. He truly brought meaning to the adage "the pen is mightier than the sword." Chernow included many excepts from his writings and used these to expound on Hamilton's personal thoughts. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Meridythe | 3/16/2011

    " Another favorite! Great book on an often under appreciated Founder. Another that's a repeat bedtime read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bo | 3/5/2011

    "
    I remember walking past the grave of Hamilton a few years back and thought to myself, 'why don't I hear more about this guy?' Well, Chernow is thorough and my curiosity is satisfied. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tom | 2/27/2011

    " This book showed me that I had a lot of misconceptions about Hamilton. Now I will have to go back and read again on Jefferson with this new information. Great book. I highly recommend it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jane | 2/22/2011

    " Really interesting person. I did this one on audio, which I would recommend. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alan | 2/19/2011

    " Very interesting. A long detailed book but I learned a lot about Hamilton, his times and his importance in American history.. "

About the Author

Ron Chernow’s first book, The House of Morgan, won the National Book Award and the Ambassador Award for his contribution to the study of American culture. Washington: A Life won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Biography, and Alexander Hamilton was the inspiration for the Broadway musical. The Warburgs won the Eccles Prize for Excellence in Economic Writing in 1993 and was also selected by the American Library Association as one of that year’s best nonfiction books.

About the Narrator

Gore Vidal (1925–2012), winner of the National Book Award, wrote numerous novels, short stories, plays, and essays, as well as nonfiction.