Category Archives: History

Books: Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow

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I am writing very brief summaries with some additional comments for some books I’ve read or listened to over the past year.  I would love to hear from others about these books or similar books.  Please comment.

Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow

This is a great book.  Apparently this is the book behind the current Broadway play called Hamilton.   I don’t care if I never see the play, it is unlikely that I ever will, but I am really glad to have experienced this book.  I’m quite sure the book is at least one hundred times better than the play.  The play is probably, I’m guessing, enjoyable in an utterly different way.   Chernow excels in telling the story.  He informs us of Hamilton’s life, experiences, beliefs, accomplishments, failures and sins all in a way that causes us to feel that we know him.

Having previously read biographies of many of the founders, as well as Revolutionary War and Early American history books, I felt fairly well-informed about Americas founding.  However, Hamilton helped me understand some things in a new or different way.   For one thing, I have always been  a small government, keep power with the states, kind of guy.   I still am, but Hamilton helped me see that America would be a radically different thing had it not been for the Federalism initiated by Hamilton.  No one can possibly know what America would be, but it wouldn’t be what it is today; and that might be both good and bad.

There are some great leadership lessons as well as basic life lessons to be learned through Hamilton.   Alexander Hamilton may have been one of the most gifted of the founding fathers, but he never had anything handed to him.   He was born into poverty, was on his own as a teenager, worked hard, took calculated risks, believed in God, worked to end slavery, and fought for what he believed.  He was a sinner who had affairs and died in a duel.   Chernow deals with all this and more.

If you want to understand American history, you should read Alexander Hamilton

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Books:Abraham Lincoln, by Carl Sandburg.

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Abraham Lincoln, by Carl Sandburg.

This is an old classic on the life of Lincoln.  It is a tome. I had heard about this book (originally a multi-volume set) but never read it.  Now I am listening to it on Audible and have 15 hours left of the 42 hours of narration.   Sandburg includes massive amounts of detail from the lives of secondary characters.  He often detours to discuss topics like the life history of a sea-captain or the history of a newspaper in Chicago.   Listening or reading can be tedious, but it does have the effect of immersing one’s mind into the world of Lincoln and therefore into the world of an extremely important part of America’s history.

There is no direct spiritual content for the Christian in this book.    I think well-rounded Christians should be aware of history and consciously observe God’s moving among nations.  However, this is probably not the best book on the Civil War, or Lincoln, for someone who is not an avid reader of history.  I would suggest “Team of Rivals”, by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

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Books: 1776, by David McCullough

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1776, by David McCullough.

I really like McCullough’s books.  1776 is one of his shorter books and I found it very enjoyable.  The book covers many events of the American revolution during the year 1776.  Much of the story is told with George Washington as the central character but other major characters are emphasized as well.

McCullough’s purpose is not to show the providential hand of God in America’s founding, but if you already believe that God was active in the orchestration of events, this book will definitely reinforce your belief.  All Americans and Christians in particular will do well to immerse themselves in American history.

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