Tag Archives: History

New to the Stacks: 2021

The Art Of Dale Chihuly by Burgard, Tim
How to Change Your Mind by Pollan, Michael
Out front the following sea by Angstman, Leah
Asimov’s Guide To The Bible by Asimov, Isaac
The Alien Stars by Pratt, Tim – reading
Villains by Necessity by Woods, Sara
In Your Eyes by Derus, Richard M.
The Girl Wakes by Lau, Carmen
Remapping Wonderland by Various
Footnote 1 by Various – read
Footnote 2 by Various
Binti: The Complete Trilogy by Okorafor, Nnedi
Women in Purple: Rulers of Medieval Byzantium by Herrin, Judith
The Four Agreements by Ruiz, Don Miguel – read
God in the Qur’an by Miles, Jack
The book of delights by Ross, Gay
Coyote Songs by Iglesias, Gabino
Devil in a Blue Dress by Mosley, Walter
A Rage in Harlem by Himes, Chester
Zero Saints by Iglesias, Gabino – read
Forging the Franchise: The Political Origins of the Women’s Vote by Teele, Dawn Langan
Book Of Revelation by Beal, Timothy – read
The Miraculous Flying House of Loreto by Velez, Karin

New to the Stacks: 2020

Love in the Time of Cholera by Marquez, Garcia Gabriel (Pearl Ruled)
The Shore of Women by Sargent, Pamela – read
When Will There Be Good News? by Atkinson, Kate – read (No Review)
The Book of Joan by Yuknavitch, Lidia – read (No Review)
Out of mesopotamia by Salar, Abdoh
In Search Of The Lost Chord: 1967 And The Hippie Idea by Goldberg, Danny
To Hold Up the Sky by Liu, Cixin
A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by O’Connor, Flannery- read (No Review)
The Wives of Henry Oades by Moran, Johanna- read (No Review)
Spirits and Thieves by Rhodes, Morgan – read (No Review)
The Rush’s Edge by Smith, Ginger – read
The women’s revolution, Russia 1905-1917 by Cox, Judy – read
George Orwell Illustrated by Smith, David
Marx’s Capital by Smith, David -read
The Fire Next Time by Baldwin, James – read
Sex in the world of myth by Leeming, David Adams
The goddess by Leeming, David Adams
The conspiracy trial of the Chicago Seven by Schultz, John
A People’s History of the United States by Zinn, Howard – reading
The Weight of Ink by Kadish, Rachel – read
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Clarke, Susanna
Thinking in Pictures by Grandin, Temple
My Beloved World by Sotomayor, Sonia
The Sirens of Titan by Vonnegut, Kurt
Super Heroes: A Modern Mythology by Reynolds, Richard – read (No Review)
The Relentless Moon by Kowal, Mary Robinette
The Language Of The Night by Le Guin, Ursula K.
Trapped in the Mirror: Adult Children of Narcissists in Their Struggle for Self by Golomb, Elan
Watchmen as literature by Van Ness, Sara J.- read (No Review)
Parable of the Sower by Butler, Octavia E.
Junk City by Boilard, Jon -read (No Review)
The Music Book by Osborn, Karen – read
Back to the wine jug by Taylor, Joe
Watchmen by Moore, Alan – read (No Review)
The Nickel Boys by Whitehead, Colson – read
The Water Dancer by Coates, Ta-Nehisi
Dark mirror by Gellman, Barton – read (No Review)
Playing in the Dark by Morrison, Toni
Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene by Ehrman, Bart D.
Berkeley at War: The 1960s by Rorabaugh, W.J.
Things that can and cannot be said by Roy, Arundhati – read
Cinderella Liberator by Solnit, Rebecca – read
Berkeley: The Student Revolt by Draper, Hal – read
The Books of Earthsea by Le Guin, Ursula K.
Robert Duncan in San Francisco by Rumaker, Michael -read (No Review)
History as mystery by Parenti, Michael – read (No Review)
Feminisms redux by Edited by Warhol-Down, Robyn and Herndl, Diane Price
American Audacity: In Defense of Literary Daring by Giraldi, William
A Book of Book Lists by Johnson, Alex – read (No Review)
Becoming Superman by Straczynski, J. Michael
Howl on Trial by Morgan, Bill and Peters, Nancy Joyce – read (No Review)
Future Perfect: American Science Fiction of the Nineteenth Century by Franklin, H. Bruce
Legends edited by Silverberg, Robert – read (No Review)
Six Memos for the Next Millennium by Calvino, Italo
Why I Read by Lesser, Wendy
Side Life by Toutonghi, Steve – read (No Review)
This is how You Lose the Time War by El-Mohtar, Amal and Gladstone, Max
The Future of Another Timeline by Newitz, Annalee – read
Gideon the Ninth by Muir, Tamsyn – read
Sixteenth Watch by Cole, Myke – read (No Review)
The City In The Middle Of The Night by Anders, Charlie Jane – read
The Lost War by Anderson, Justin – read (No Review)
Small days and nights by Tishani, Doshi – read
The Shadow King by Mengiste, Maaza – read
Mickey Mouse: From Walt to the World by Deja, Andreas

Review: Shakespeare’s Library

Shakespeare's Library
Shakespeare’s Library by Stuart Kells

Title: Shakespeare’s Library
Author: Stuart Kells
Published: 2019
ISBN-13: 978-1-64009-183-2
Publisher: Counterpoint Press

Publisher’s Blurb:   Millions of words of scholarship have been expended on the world’s most famous author and his work. And yet a critical part of the puzzle, Shakespeare’s library, is a mystery. For four centuries people have searched for it: in mansions, palaces and libraries; in riverbeds, sheep pens and partridge coops; and in the corridors of the mind. Yet no trace of the bard’s manuscripts, books or letters has ever been found.

The search for Shakespeare’s library is much more than a treasure hunt. Knowing what the Bard read informs our reading of his work, and it offers insight into the mythos of Shakespeare and the debate around authorship. The library’s fate has profound implications for literature, for national and cultural identity, and for the global Shakespeare industry. It bears on fundamental principles of art, identity, history, meaning and truth.

Unfolding the search like the mystery story that it is, acclaimed author Stuart Kells follows the trail of the hunters, taking us through different conceptions of the library and of the man himself. Entertaining and enlightening, Shakespeare’s Library is a captivating exploration of one of literature’s most enduring enigmas.

Oh, silly me.  I thought I might learn something of a writer’s inspiration and the books he turned to time and again while writing Elizabethan era plays which have, in turn, inspired many writers across 400 years.

I was not captivated by Stuart Kells’ book, even as I realized it was about the many theories of where and what Shakespeare’s library might be.  Uninterested in the stories of charlatans and crackpot academic theories, I didn’t learn anything interesting.  Only that there’s a mystery surrounding Shakespeare’s non-existent library and people will go to great lengths to prove their pet theory or feed their greed with forged papers and books.

Stuart Kells deserves plaudits for his research and his love for this mystery.   He approaches the entire subject with a great deal of humor and large grains of salt.  And kudos to him for listening to people who have clearly gone off the rails over this mystery.

For people looking to learn something really interesting about Shakespeare and his time, I highly recommend Globe:  Life in Shakespeare’s London by Catharine Arnold.

To Do List: Who Cooked the Last Supper?

Who Cooked the Last Supper by Rosalind Miles

Title: Who Cooked the Last Supper?
Author: Rosalind Miles
Published: 2001
ISBN-13: 9780609806951
Publisher: Penguin Random House

Publisher’s Blurb:
Who Cooked the Last Supper? overturns the phallusy of history and gives voice to the untold history of the world: the contributions of millions of unsung women.

Men dominate history because men write history. There have been many heroes, but no heroines. Here, in Who Cooked the Last Supper?, is the history you never learned–but should have!

Without politics or polemics, this brilliant and witty book overturns centuries of preconceptions to restore women to their rightful place at the center of culture, revolution, empire, war, and peace. Spiced with tales of individual women who have shaped civilization, celebrating the work and lives of women around the world, and distinguished by a wealth of research, Who Cooked the Last Supper? redefines our concept of historical reality.

Ugh, I really hate the play on words using phallusy in this blurb.  Let’s not make light of the topic at hand.

Rosalind Miles’ Who Cooked the Last Supper? is dense to read at times.  It is well-researched, which does not mean it’s an easy read.  A review will come when I’ve had more time to mull over what she has to say.

Cover Reveal: Out Front the Following Sea by Leah Angstman

Leah Angstman and I met on Twitter after finding her small press Alternating Currents (@altcurrent) which publishes the absolutely fabulous *Footnote; A Literary Journal of History.  I cannot wait to get my hands on this book!

Now, I’m thrilled to be participating in the cover reveal for Leah Angstman’s debut novel, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, coming January 2022 from Regal House Publishing.


OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA:
A Novel of King William’s War in 17th-Century New England
BY LEAH ANGSTMAN
Publication Date: January 11, 2022
Regal House Publishing
Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook; 334 pages
Genre: Historical / Literary / Epic
**Shortlisted for the Chaucer Book Award**


OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a historical epic of one woman’s survival in a time when the wilderness is still wild, heresy is publicly punishable, and being independent is worse than scorned—it is a death sentence.At the onset of King William’s War between French and English settlers in 1689 New England, Ruth Miner is accused of witchcraft for the murder of her parents and must flee the brutality of her town. She stows away on the ship of the only other person who knows her innocence: an audacious sailor — Owen — bound to her by years of attraction, friendship, and shared secrets. But when Owen’s French ancestry finds him at odds with a violent English commander, the turmoil becomes life-or-death for the sailor, the headstrong Ruth, and the cast of Quakers, Pequot Indians, soldiers, highwaymen, and townsfolk dragged into the fray. Now Ruth must choose between sending Owen to the gallows or keeping her own neck from the noose. Steeped in historical events and culminating in a little-known war on pre-American soil, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a story of early feminism, misogyny, arbitrary rulings, persecution, and the treatment of outcasts, with parallels still mirrored and echoed in today’s society. The debut novel will appeal to readers of Paulette Jiles, Alexander Chee, Hilary Mantel, James Clavell, Bernard Cornwell, TaraShea Nesbit, Geraldine Brooks, Stephanie Dray, Patrick O’Brian, and E. L. Doctorow.

AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER

REGAL HOUSE PRINT | AMAZON KINDLE

AVAILABLE FOR ARC REQUEST
TNBBC PUBLICITY

Out Front the Following Sea hi-res cover reveal

Praise

“With OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, Leah Angstman reveals herself as a brave new voice in historical fiction. With staggering authenticity, Angstman gives us a story of America before it was America — an era rife with witch hunts and colonial intrigue and New World battles all but forgotten in our history books and popular culture. This is historical fiction that speaks to the present, recalling the bold spirits and cultural upheavals of a nation yet to be born.”—Taylor Brown, author of PRIDE OF EDEN, GODS OF HOWL MOUNTAIN, and THE RIVER OF KINGS

“Steeped in lush prose, authentic period detail, and edge-of-your-seat action, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a rollicking good read. Leah Angstman keeps the story moving at a breathtaking pace, and she knows more 17th-century seafaring language and items of everyday use than you can shake a stick at. The result is a compelling work of romance, adventure, and historical illumination that pulls the reader straight in.”—Rilla Askew, author of FIRE IN BEULAH, THE MERCY SEAT, and KIND OF KIN<

“Lapidary in its research and lively in its voice, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA by Leah Angstman is a rollicking story, racing along with wind in its sails. Though her tale unfolds hundreds of years in America’s past, Ruth Miner is the kind of high-spirited heroine whose high adventures haul you in and hold you fast.”—Kathleen Rooney, author of LILLIAN BOXFISH TAKES A WALK and CHER AMI AND MAJOR WHITTLESEY

“Leah Angstman has written the historical novel that I didn’t know I needed to read. OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is set in an oft-forgotten time in the brutal wilds of pre-America that is so vividly and authentically drawn, with characters that are so alive and relevant, and a narrative so masterfully paced and plotted, that Angstman has performed the miracle of layering the tumultuous past over our troubled present to gift us a sparkling new reality.”—Kevin Catalano, author of WHERE THE SUN SHINES OUT and DELETED SCENES AND OTHER STORIES<

“OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a fascinating book, the kind of historical novel that evokes its time and place so vividly that the effect is just shy of hallucinogenic. I enjoyed it immensely.” —Scott Phillips, author of THE ICE HARVEST, THE WALKAWAY, COTTONWOOD, and HOP ALLEY

“OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a meticulously researched novel that mixeshistory, love story, and suspense. Watching Angstman’s willful protagonist,Ruth Miner, openly challenge the brutal world of 17th-century New England, with its limiting ideas about gender, race, and science, was a delight.” —Aline Ohanesian, author of ORHAN’S INHERITANCE

“Leah Angstman is a gifted storyteller with a poet’s sense of both beauty and darkness, and her stunning historical novel, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, establishes her as one of the most exciting young novelists in the country.  Angstman plunges the reader into a brilliantly realized historical milieu peopled by characters real enough to touch. And in Ruth Miner, we are introduced to one of the most compelling protagonists in contemporary literature, a penetratingly intelligent, headstrong woman who is trying to survive on her wits alone in a Colonial America that you won’t find in the history books. A compulsive, vivid read that will change the way you look at the origins of our country, Leah Angstman’s OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA announces the arrival of a preternatural talent.” —Ashley Shelby, author of MURI and SOUTH POLE STATION<

“Rich, lyrical, and atmospheric, with a poet’s hand and a historian’s attention to detail. In OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, Leah Angstman creates an immersive world for readers to get lost in and a fascinating story to propel them through it. A thoroughly engaging and compelling tale.”  —Steph Post, author of HOLDING SMOKE, MIRACULUM, and WALK IN THE FIRE

“It’s a rare story that makes you thankful for having read and experienced it. It’s rarer still for a story to evoke so wholly, so powerfully, another place and time as to make you thankful for the gifts that exist around you, which you take for granted. OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a book rich with misery, yet its characters are indefatigable; they yearn, despite their troubles, for victories personal and societal. Leah Angstman’s eye is keen, and her ability to transport you into America’s beginnings is powerful. With the raw ingredients of history, she creates a story both dashing and pensive, robust yet believable. From an unforgiving time, Angstman draws out a tale of all things inhuman, but one that reminds us of that which is best in all of us.”  —Eric Shonkwiler, author of ABOVE ALL MEN and 8TH STREET POWER AND LIGHT

About the Author

Leah Angstman author photoLeah Angstman is a historian and transplanted Michigander living in Boulder. OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, her debut novel of King William’s War in 17th-century New England, is forthcoming from Regal House in January 2022. Her writing has been a finalist for the Saluda River Prize, Cowles Book Prize, Able Muse Book Award, Bevel Summers Fiction Prize, and Chaucer Book Award, and has appeared in Publishers Weekly, L.A. Review of Books, Nashville Review, Slice, and elsewhere. She serves as editor-in-chief for Alternating Current and The Coil magazine and copyeditor for Underscore News, which has included editing partnerships with ProPublica. She is an appointed vice chair of a Colorado historical commission and liaison to a Colorado historic preservation committee.

Review: The Women’s Revolution

The Women's Revolution
The Women’s Revolution by Judy Cox

Title: The Women’s Revolution
Author: Judy Cox
Published: 2019
ISBN-13: 9781608467846
Publisher: Haymarket Books
Publisher Blurb:  The dominant view of the Russian Revolution of 1917 is of a movement led by prominent men like Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky. Despite the demonstrations of female workers for ‘bread and herrings’, which sparked the February Revolution, in most historical accounts of this momentous period, women are too often relegated to the footnotes. Judy Cox argues that women were essential to the success of the revolution and to the development of the Bolshevik Party.

A  thousand years ago, in a place barely remembered, my pursuit of a history degree involved picking electives about places I didn’t know.  Thus Russia, one quarter with a paper on the October 1917 Revolution led by golden boy Alexander Kerensky.  In addition to the text, A History of Russia by Nicholas Valentine Riasanovsky, I read Robert K. Massie‘s biography of Peter the Great.  Having learned a little about the Streltsy, revolutions, and communism, I moved on.

I was not yet in my search for the women in history phase.  Nor was my curiosity that hungry.  Working and studying probably had something to do with that.  After graduating, I did come across Catherine the Great, also by Robert K. Massie, and found Bertrand M. Patenaude‘s Trotsky: Downfall Of A Revolutionary, about Trotsky’s years in Mexico.  Names I’d heard in other readings, names I knew little about.

My search for identity leads me to delve into feminism and what it means to be a feminist.  Along with my history degree, this brings a strain of “where are the women?” into my reading.

A book sale gives me The Women’s Revolution by Judy Cox.  This slender book works as supplemental material to Russian histories, but cannot be considered  a primary history book.

A brief summary of women in revolutionary history during the years 1905 – 1917  begins the book.  The second part of the book is a list with brief biographies of the women mentioned in part 1.  The Women’s Revolution stands as an addition to Russian studies, adding a list of women overshadowed by their more famous male counterparts to investigate.  I think of it more as a type of bibliography than anything.

Review: Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Title: Alexander Hamilton
Author: Ron Chernow
Published: 2004
ISBN-13: 9781594200090
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publisher’s Blurb:  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.

 

Alexander Hamilton & the Persistence of Myth by Stephen F. Knott

Title: Alexander Hamilton & the Persistence of Myth
Author: Stephen F. Knott
Published: 2002
ISBN-13: 978-0-7006-1419-6
Publisher: University Press of Kansas
Twitter:  @publius57
Publisher’s Blurb:   explores the shifting reputation of our most controversial founding father. Since the day Aaron Burr fired his fatal shot, Americans have tried to come to grips with Alexander Hamilton’s legacy. Stephen Knott surveys the Hamilton image in the minds of American statesmen, scholars, literary figures, and the media, explaining why Americans are content to live in a Hamiltonian nation but reluctant to embrace the man himself.

“The image of Hamilton fashioned by Jefferson and his allies has endured and flourished, and the Hamilton of American memory is a Hamilton who championed privilege and who was a foe of liberty.”  (Knott, p. 26)

Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton and Stephen F. Knott’s Alexander Hamilton & the Persistence of Myth offer a unique insight to both the man, and the legend of the man.

And while I have pondered long and hard about how to write about Hamilton without turning into a Thomas Jefferson bashing machine, it is difficult to talk about one without the other.  Thanks to Jefferson and his network of devoted mouthpieces, Hamilton’s reputation remains in tatters centuries after the founding of the US.

That it took a musical based on Chernow’s book to address, and repair, Hamilton’s reputation is a statement on how deeply entrenched lies and rumors become.  It’s also a statement on how easy it is to believe the worst in people instead of looking for the best.

Not that Hamilton was a complete paragon of virtue, and could, “at moments of supreme stress, … screw himself up to an emotional pitch that was nearly feverish in intensity.”  (Chernow, p. 115) It is hard to imagine how a man with such an towering intellect could have so many blind spots, and be so stupid.

Soaring blind spots seem to go hand in hand with towering intellect.  Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, and James Madison, all seemed to be intimidated by Hamilton’s intellect.  “The byzantine, interrelated nature of his programs (e.g. central banking, professional standing military, international trade with Britain) made him all the more the bane and terror of his opponents.”  (Chernow, p. 349)

Nuance, and the lack of understanding thereof, is the two-edged blade of smart people everywhere.  It’s baffling how so many around us just don’t understand what we think is an easy idea. “… things were so blindingly self-evident to Hamilton that he was baffled when others didn’t grasp them quickly – an intellectual agility that could breed intolerance for less quick-witted mortals.”  (Chernow, p. 119)

Knott picks up this thread, “At bottom, Jefferson could not countenance the fact that an immigrant upstart without the appropriate pedigree … dared challenge him.”  (Knott, p. 11)

Jefferson presented the image of a down-home gentleman farmer who understood the agrarian slave-holding farmers of Virginia.  He came from wealth, owned property and was a slaveholder. That the bastard child of poverty from the island of Nevis in the Caribbean should rise up and challenge him was more than Jefferson could tolerate.

As is also sometimes true of very smart people, Hamilton was not a crafty plotter and “often could not muzzles his opinions.”  (Chernow, p. 176) The myth which has stuck to Hamilton most is that the people are a “great beast,” not to be trusted with direct democracy.

Hamilton was right, but there’s a nuance long missed by his detractors.  Trusting a mob mentality to make sensible decisions, especially those involving running a government is a bad idea.  As individuals, we are smart and sensible. Of course we know, individually, what we want and need from our government leaders.  Put us in a big group and mob mentality takes over, and no one has a good idea, not even what’s for dinner.

This myth about Hamilton continues to live because of he understood the unruliness of a mob.  On this point, he was accused of hating all people, especially the less-privileged and standing for something like a monarchy in America.  Lesser minds were too busy making up lies and spreading gossip to try to understand the nuance in Hamilton’s statements.

He wasn’t against a democracy per se, he was against allowing the unruly mob have such power.  Among other political factors, this is one of the reasons we’re stuck with the electoral college.  How else to avoid the mistakes of mob rule?

In the late 18th century it was impossible to believe the republic would ever be big enough, educated enough, and sensible enough to have good decision making processes.  Women read? Slaves freed and owning land? Hah, never happen.

Except Hamilton sort of expected it, even if he couldn’t get past the hypocrisy of being white, educated, (male), and marrying into money.  His heart and ideals were in the right place, though. His background prepared him well to understand why paying and supplying the militias was important.  He championed a standing professional army, precisely because farmers arriving on the field of battle with a pitchfork were woefully unprepared for the rigors of professional fighting.

Hamilton even understood the need for a centralized federal bank for economic stability.  (And that’s all I’m qualified to recount because the only thing I know about banking is there are too many fees.)  He was, according to both Chernow and Knotts, an economic genius. Well, they’re not the only ones, economists over the centuries have sung his praises too.

But these lofty ideas were held in contempt by those threatened by his enormous mind and his exceptional work ethic.  I can understand his disinclination to pander or be less forceful when expressing ideas. We just want to get stuff done and don’t have the energy to play the political games at which others are so good.

And those blind spots?  How about Hamilton as participant in the nation’s first sex scandal?  For over a year, Maria Reynolds, and her husband, caught Hamilton in their thrall and blackmailed him.  “Quite understandably, [there were those who] could not conceive that someone as smart and calculating as Hamilton could have stayed as long in thrall to an enslaving passion.  Hamilton could not have been stupid enough to pay hush money for sex, [they] alleged, so the money paid … had to involve illicit speculation.  In all fairness, … it is baffling that Hamilton submitted to blackmail for so long.”  (Chernow, p. 530)

And Hamilton, rather than quietly admitting it and moving on, wrote volumes to be published in newspapers describing every sordid detail.  Career was the motive for this, not worry over his marriage to Eliza and their family. After the affair, Hamilton never strayed far from his family, remaining close by until his death.

Which, of course, leads to the duel with Aaron Burr.  Hamilton, “born without honor, was exceedingly sensitive to any slights to his political honor.”  (Chernow, p. 237) Born without honor, meaning born of suspect parental lineage. Believed to be a bastard, the quickest way to get him riled up was to mention this.

“[Burr] was a chameleon who evaded clear-cut positions on and was a genius at studied ambiguity.”  (Chernow, p. 192) He was an opportunist, and could figure out endless ways to profit from any political wrangling surrounding him.  Further, Chernow writes, “… Burr was a lone operator, a protean figure who formed alliances for short-term gain.” (p. 421)

He was bent on revenge for Hamilton’s part in Burr’s ostracism from the Jefferson administration and losing the governorship of New York because Hamilton was freely quoted as saying Burr wasn’t fit for office.  Hamilton can hardly be blamed for Jefferson dropping Burr from the ticket as VP. The quote about not being fit for office, that part was true.

Weehawken, NJ on July 11, 1804 lives in infamy as the place Burr shot Hamilton, thus ending the career and loving marriage of Alexander Hamilton who only ever wanted to see the US become a strong nation.  Burr’s life ended that day too. “…Hamilton committed his last patriotic act, for he ensured that Aaron Burr would never again be a viable player in the politics of the early republic.” (Knott, p. 1)

But, Hamilton’s legend lives on.  Depending on the era, he’s been seen as selfish and elitist, interested only in money and power.  Depression-era scholars and politicians blamed the Depression on Hamilton, despite being dead for 125 years.

Even his scandalous affair made an appearance during the Clinton impeachment hearings in 1998 when his team presented “a thirty page brief to the House Judiciary Committee citing Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds and the reluctance of Congress to pursue the issue after concluding it was a private matter.”  (Knotts, p. 225)

The profound effect Hamilton had on government is immeasurable.  Chernow’s nearly 800 page biography follows Hamilton from Nevis to his rise in US politics and his death at the gun of Aaron Burr.  Chernow admires Hamilton but doesn’t let that get in the way of the facts as presented.

Stephen F. Knott also admires Hamilton and defends Hamilton against the scurrilous myths which continue to be taken as truth.  Between the two, Chernow and Knott present an interesting and entertaining read of a man too intellectual and uncompromising for the likes of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Aaron Burr to respect.

Chernow has the best last word, “Any biographer foolhardy enough to attempt an authoritative life of Alexander Hamilton must tread a daunting maze of detail.”  (Chernow, p. 733)

New to the Stacks: More Hamilton and Mythology

Earth by David Brin
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Alexander Hamilton & the Persistence of Myth by Stephen F. Knott
The Transparent Society by David Brin
Early Irish Myths and Saga

Earth by David Brin
Coraline by Neil Gaiman ~ read
Alexander Hamilton & the Persistence of Myth by Stephen F. Knott ~ read
The Transparent Society by David Brin
Early Irish Myths and Sagas