I was recently interviewed about my new book, Alexander Hamilton: The Formative Years, for the very first issue of “HamilTEN Questions.”
1. How were you first introduced to Alexander Hamilton?
I’ve always been a fan of history, especially American history and most especially the American Revolution and Founding. As a child, I read books on the major Founding Fathers—Washington, Jefferson, Franklin. Oddly, Hamilton was missing, though he appeared in many of those other books. In 2004, I read Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, which I believe was the first Hamilton bio I read.
2. Why did you decide to write a book about Alexander Hamilton?
After reading Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton in 2004, I did nothing more with Hamilton for a while. When I wrote Angry Mobs and Founding Fathers (published in 2011), I was surprised to learn that Hamilton was not only involved in virtually every aspect of the American Revolution and Founding, but also that nearly everything he did and even the facts of his life are surrounded by so much controversy. It was then that I decided I needed to learn more about Hamilton, that I needed to know whether Hamilton was an indispensable Founding Father who Washington relied on and the Federalists followed, or if he was the villain that Jefferson portrayed him to be.
3. What separates your book from what is already out there in the Hamiltonian literature?
Aside from the many new discoveries presented in Alexander Hamilton: The Formative Years, I focused on separating the facts of Hamilton’s life from the many uncorroborated tales that have been told. Instead of simply repeating what previous Hamilton biographers have written, I examined every assertion to ensure that they are backed up by solid evidence, eyewitness testimony, or objective analysis of the relevant evidence. If they are not, I determine the plausibility of that information.
This means that many interesting stories about Hamilton have been debunked or shown to be based on flimsy evidence, but it also enables us to find new details that previously had been overlooked…
You can pre-order your copy of Alexander Hamilton: The Formative Years at Kickstarter.