Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Book review - Alexander Hamilton.

Wow, it's been quite awhile since I last posted. I guess the best excuse I can come up with is that I was reading Broadus Mitchell's two volume biography of Alexander Hamilton. The two books that make up Alexander Hamilton were printed in 1962. The book subtitled Youth to Maturity covers the years from 1755-1788 and runs 465 pages. The second book is subtitled The National Adventure, covers the years from 1788-1804 and runs 555 pages.

Mr. Mitchell's writing style is thorough but at times is over detailed and less than gripping. Still, I found this set to be interesting and informative. Mr. Mitchell is obviously a Hamilton partisan but reveals Hamilton's warts along with his achievements. From the outset it is clear that Alexander Hamilton was a young man of great promise and talents. By the end of the book it is clear to see where that promise had been fulfilled and where it had not. Also clear are the examples in his life of both use and misuse of his impressive talents.

As one who has been less than impressed by Alexander Hamilton I was looking forward to reading the set to further round out my knowledge of the father of the American financial system. In some areas my doubts about Hamilton were enforced - his economic collectivism and his conduct towards John Adams. In other areas I was more favorably impressed - his energy and organization in financing the War for Independence and the young republic. All in all I remain less impressed with Hamilton than I am with the work of Mr. Mitchell. I recommend Alexander Hamilton with one caveat; to fully appreciate the read the reader must be familiar with the founding of the United States and must be interested enough in the subject matter to deal with the length of the combined works.