Fans of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit Broadway musical, Hamilton, were devastated when Miranda, who played the role of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, and several of the other original cast members made their final performance in mid-July. But all theater lovers know that the show must go on and luckily you can still enjoy the Founding Fathers’ escapades on and off stage. Several understudies have taken their place at center stage on Broadway, but if you can’t make it to New York, here are the best 9 books to keep the Hamilton love going.
1. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton inspired Miranda to write the musical in the first place, so it only makes sense that it is the go-to book for Hamilton fans. In Alexander Hamilton, Chernow documents not only Hamilton’s political accomplishments, but also the countless personal sacrifices he made to shape America into the country it is today.
2. War of Two: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Duel that Stunned the Nation by John Sedgwick
Miranda’s Hamilton is held together by the thread Aaron Burr offers as he flits in and out of the political scene, seeking success of his own and continually being overlooked for Hamilton. The resulting rivalry is the focus of Sedgwick’s investigative biography of the two men so crucial to the trajectory of the young nation. What would motivate these two men to risk their lives and the fate of the country? Sedgwick argues that Hamilton saw Burr as a threat to the stability of the nation – and his actions after Hamilton’s death seem to prove just that.
3. Washington’s Immortals: The Untold Story of an Elite Regiment Who Changed the Course of the Revolution by Patrick K. O’Donnell
Just over a month after the Continental Congress declared independence from Britain, the success of the revolution fell into the hands of a single regiment. Known as the “Immortal 400,” these men orchestrated several rear guard attacks that allowed General George Washington to evacuate his troops during the disastrous Battle of Brooklyn. Two hundred and fifty-six of these men were killed during the battle and today their final resting place is a mass grave marked only by an unassuming rusted sign. Military historian Patrick K. O’Donnell brings the actions of these heroic men to the forefront of the narrative of the American Revolution and offers them the recognition they have been denied for over two centuries.
4. Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams by Louisa Thomas
For many fans of Hamilton the strong-willing Angelica Schuyler revealed another side of the American Revolution: the women who yearned to leave their own mark on the young country, but were excluded from the political sphere dominated exclusively by men. However, these women were about to influence the politics surrounding the American Revolution through their husbands, as was the case with Louisa Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams. This biography brings to light Louisa’s relationship with her husband and with America as a whole, both of which were complicated as she struggled with her identity, having been born to an American father and a British mother in London.
5. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell
In Miranda’s rendition of Hamilton’s life, we meet the ten-dollar Founding Father, without a father, in New York when he is 19 and newly immigrated to the colonies. Similarly, Vowell’s examination of the Marquis de Lafayette’s role in the American revolution begins when Lafayette is 19 and eager for the glory and the chance to fight against the British. But the parallels between Hamilton and Lafayette don’t end there and you might not be able to help yourself from wondering what might have come of Hamilton’s life if he and Aaron Burr had never dueled based on the life that Lafayette came to live.
6. America’s First Daughter: A Novel by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
If biographies don’t appeal much to you, a historical fiction novel might be better suited for your TBR list and what a historical fiction it is. Follow Thomas Jefferson’s oldest daughter from Monticello to France and back again as this bildungsroman navigates the gray space between family loyalty and political responsibility. Though those who are decidedly on Alexander Hamilton’s side will prickle at some of the none-too-friendly references to him, the sentiments are true to Jefferson and help to put the importance of Hamilton’s actions into perspective.
7. Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings: A Novel by Stephen O’Connor
This historical fiction story investigates the internal conflict Thomas Jefferson faced as he rose through the ranks of a newly freed America where “all men are created equal,” all the while maintaining a plantation worked by slaves and even keeping one of his mulatto slaves as a mistress. Stephen O’Connor skirts fiction, historical, and fantasy genres throughout the novel in order to allow Sally Hemings’s voice to be heard like never before. Through these snippets of fictional memoir, Sally arises as the true hero of the story.
8. The Hamilton Affair: A Novel by Elizabeth Cobbs
Much like Hamilton, Elizabeth Cobbs’s historical fiction novel depicts Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler’s love story from their first meeting to their early parting that fateful morning along the banks of the Hudson River. With no shortage of marital conflicts to face at home, Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton navigate the tumultuous political scene of post-revolutionary America, challenging each other in both the private and public spheres.
9. Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter
Finally, if you’re especially in need of another dose of Hamilton and listening to the soundtrack on loop just isn’t cutting it anymore, you better skip right to Hamilton: The Revolution. In this book, Miranda and co-author Jeremy McCarter trace the unlikely path the musical took from the very first stages of conception to a performance at the White House and a record breaking run on Broadway. Included is the full text, exclusive interviews and pictures of the cast, and over 200 informative footnotes that reveal Miranda’s thoughts on various aspects of the musical.
Did you get a chance to see Hamilton on Broadway? What were your thoughts?
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