[Warning. If you are sensitive to randomly inserted Hamilton quotes, you may want to Say No To This book review.]
Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life by Jeff Wilser is probably best described as “written by Hamiltrash, for Hamiltrash.” I knew this when I first picked it up and let me tell you, I was pretty stoked. I’ve recently fallen into an obsession with the musical Hamilton and it’s amazing writer and star actor, Lin Manuel Miranda. This play has made me do something I never thought I’d do: attempt (emphasis on “attempt”) to rap about the founding fathers.
I think this particular book is definitely building on the recent popularity of the musical Hamilton, but that said, I think it’s still worth a read for Hamilton fans, history buffs, and otherwise.
I learned a lot more about the beautiful Alexander Hamilton than can be gleaned from the musical. I haven’t read Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton yet (that’s the one the musical is based off of), so I can’t say if it had any more interesting tidbits than a biography such as that one would have given you, but I think it’s a unique book and not really intended to mainly be a biography anyway, so there you have it.
Without further blabbering, let’s get into some nitty-gritty details about this little Hamil-gem.
~ What I Disliked ~
We should start with negative so we can end with positive, shouldn’t we? Yeah, let’s do that.
There was little I took issue with in this book, but I am going to give a little argument as to why you might not enjoy this book anyway.
This book could be seen as being heavily influenced by the recent Hamilton craze. Is that a bad thing? Personally, I’m satisfied. I listen to Hamilton non-stop. I love the musical and I love reading material by people who also love the musical. My only criticism is that people who don’t love the musical might not be interested in this book.
However, I think Wilser did a good job of being conscious of this fact and really tried to make a book that gave us something we can’t just get by listening to Hamilton or reading a biography. More on that soon!
I would like to mention before I move on that perhaps this isn’t a kid friendly book because of some of the topics (it’s A-Ham, y’all) so if you’re sensitive that, be cautious!
~ What I Liked ~
Yay! Positivity is my favorite! Because this book has a lot of good points.
This book is indeed new material. I know you might be worried that it’s just more crazy Hamilton stuff (I personally love crazy Hamilton stuff… I digress), but I promise this book truly does serve its own purpose. Jeff Wilser has a unique and very funny voice. This book covers a lot of Hamilton’s life, but it’s also very humorous and gives some pretty sound advice too. It doesn’t hide Hamilton’s flaws, but rather uses them to advise further and show that Hamilton was certainly not perfect.
This book also served to increase my affection for the “ten dollar founding father without a father” even more. Hamilton, though very imperfect, was a highly intelligent and extremely fascinating human being. And somehow, he’s just so darn lovable. This book actually made my hand go to my heart a few times because sometimes you just feel sort of proud of a historical figure.
The book did actually make me laugh out loud quite a few times too. The illustrations are great, the history is fascinating, and I think this book was certainly worth a read.
~ Would I Recommend It? ~
Yes! I would recommend this specifically to Hamilton fans who are looking for something Hamilton-related to read. However, I think it’d be enjoyable to anybody who’s interested in history or the life of Alexander Hamilton as well. Even if you’re just curious, it’s definitely worth a go. I enjoyed it and I think you’d like it too.
And well, in summary, Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life by Jeff Wilser is humorous, informative, and helpful. This book highlights Hamilton’s beliefs, his dreams, his ambition, determination and his failures too and uses them to give some pretty decent advice about life.
We’re not all Alexander Hamiltons, but I think what’s so compelling about Hamilton’s story is how he started from absolutely nothing and became something way bigger than anyone would expect of someone in his position. It’s interesting to know we all have that potential inside us.
My Official Goodreads Rating is four out of five stars! Technically, 3.5, but that’s not really a thing on Goodreads. I gave it that because I enjoyed it quite a lot, but I feel it’s almost niche and that it’s not something I’d really want to read twice. In other words, read it once and that would be enough.
Despite that, it’s earned itself a happy place on my bookshelves. My sincere admiration goes out to Jeff Wilser who took his love of Alexander Hamilton to the next level and wrote a great book. Jeff, you did not throw away your shot.
My thanks goes to Blogging for Books who sent me a review copy of this book for my honest review!
If you’d like to know more about Jeff Wilser, you can find him at his website http://www.jeffwilser.com or on his twitter and instagram which are both @jeffwilser. This dude’s pretty awesome so check him out!