If You Love Hamilton, You'll Love These Books
"Look around, look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now!"
I went to see Hamilton at the Fox Theatre this weekend, and it was incredible. I was lucky enough to see it on Broadway in 2016 and have been dying to see it again. It is a fabulous musical and such an incredible story. Who would have thought you could make a hip-hop musical about one of our Founding Fathers? Lin-Manuel Miranda is brilliant and a national treasure. Here are a few books to try if you are like me and have caught the Hamilton fever.
Obviously, the first choice is Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, which was the source of Miranda’s inspiration for the musical. This incredibly detailed biography of Hamilton is fascinating and such a great companion piece to the musical. Hamilton’s life was insane; he was an immigrant, married into one of the wealthiest families in New York, and had public fights with pretty much every other Founding Father. If you are looking for more information on Hamilton, this is the biography to read.
If you are interested in the other Founding Fathers, the Adams family is a good start. First of all, check out the John Adams HBO miniseries. It is based on the David McCullough biography John Adams. I have not read the biography yet, but have it on my shelf. I really enjoyed the miniseries though. And I have said it before, but I’ll say it again, I love Abigail Adams. She is incredibly fascinating. I read Woody Holton’s biography Abigail Adams last summer and was surprised at how forward-thinking and progressive her thoughts and actions were. While her husband John may have been a controversial political figure, you cannot doubt the influence Abigail had on not only her husband, but the United States of America.
Back in high school, I read 1776 by David McCullough about the Revolutionary War. I don’t remember a lot about the book, but I will never forget McCullough’s descriptions of the soldiers suffering in the long winters. Most of 1776 focuses on the military parts of the Revolutionary War and less on the political aspects. In "Stay Alive", Hamilton and Washington both refer to the harsh conditions of the war. If you are interested in the military aspects of the Revolution, I definitely recommend picking up 1776.
Also, if you are interested in a more modern take on the US government, check out Kate Andersen Brower’s The Residence. Brower interviewed countless former White House Residence workers, and the stories are incredible. She mainly focuses on workers from the Kennedy administration to the Obama administration, but there are some stories from prior administrations. Brower also has a fabulous book on all the modern First Ladies called First Women. Brower, a former White House Press reporter, does in-depth research for each of her books. If you are into "The Schuyler Sisters", you will definitely like First Women and The Residence.
And last but certainly not least, go behind the scenes of Hamilton the Musical with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s book, Hamilton: the Revolution. I listened to the audiobook by Mariska Hargitay and then broke down and bought the physical copy because I needed all the pictures. Plus you get all the lyrics to all the songs. Miranda writes about how he came up with the idea of the musical, how he wrote the songs, and choosing the original cast. This book will turn you into a super fan, if you are not one already!
Obviously I am a huge Hamilton fan, but it also helps that I am a bit of a history nerd. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go listen to the soundtrack for the 4,385th time.
Let me know if you are a Hamilton or a Burr! I’m probably more of a Burr. "Wait for It" is my favorite song.