66 pages 2 hours read

Ron Chernow

Alexander Hamilton

Nonfiction | Biography | Adult | Published in 2004

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Key Figures

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton is the subject of the book. His life is a study in contrasts. The traits that come to exemplify Hamilton all appear to have roots in his childhood in the Caribbean. Throughout his life, Hamilton was intellectually curious and courageous. He detested any sort of authoritarian regime or institution, and his loathing of slavery resulted from the injustices and cruelties he witnessed as a child. 

Hamilton was ambitious, but few critics portray his actions as self-serving. As he rose through the ranks of the military, and then of American politics, Hamilton kept looking toward the future in mind. He studied so that he could understand subjects, not to secure a better job or to gain intellectual acclaim. When he sought an elevation of stature or position, it was typically to place himself in circumstances where he would have more influence or control over large outcomes. For instance, he coveted the position of Treasury secretary, but it was primarily because he trusted that he could devise a fair, methodical system that would benefit future generations. 

Despite his bravery, and though Chernow portrays Hamilton in this book as thick-skinned, Hamilton was also unable to resist responding to criticism. He is quick to respond to any perceived insult to his honor, but there are also elements of his personality that incline towards self-sabotage—such as his lengthy, revealing pamphlet that went into unnecessary details about his affair with Maria Reynolds.