Saturday, October 19, 2013

Jefferson and Hamilton - Book Review

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I enjoy reading about history, so I was excited to pick up an Advance Review Copy of John Ferling's new book Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry That Forged a Nation at Book Expo America. The book is all about how both Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, though different men with different beliefs, shaped the United States of America and continue to shape the way the nation evolves today.

Much of the beginning of the book deals with, well, both men's beginnings: their early lives growing up and the kind of education they received. Then it moves onto the American Revolution, and I kind of dozed off because reading about war tactics isn't really my bag. I'm more of a visual person. I need maps and charts.

Of course, America won the Revolution, but there was still some fighting among the people as to what kind of government needed to be enforced. From the start, the leaders of the new government were divided on two sides. There were those who felt more like Hamilton, the Federalists, and those who felt more like Jefferson, the Republicans. Jefferson wanted less government and more individual liberty while Hamilton wanted a powerful national government. I thought it was funny that both men disliked each other based on unfounded rumors they had heard about the other guy.

In the beginning, Hamilton's Federalists had the upperhand, and Hamilton was unrelenting in his mission to keep it that way. However, things began to change during John Adams' presidency when Jefferson was vice-president. And by the time Jefferson became the nation's third president, the Republicans were on top, and Hamilton's star was starting to burn out. His passion turned crazed and he made enemies with every essay he published. His penchant for making people angry proved to be his undoing - death by duel with Aaron Burr.

Something I found interesting was that all these men kept journals and wrote letters and kept all of these papers. Without these personal artifacts, we might not know much about who these men were and how they lived their lives outside of the government.

Both Hamilton and Jefferson had some personal issues, but they both had passion for America and trying to make it the best country that it could be. If you enjoy reading about history and want to know more about some of the United States' early founders, then this book would be a good choice for you. It might help to already have some knowledge of U.S. history during this time period - and more than just what they teach you in middle school and high school - because it is a rather collegiate text, and I did have trouble following all of it.

Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry That Forged a Nation is published by Bloomsbury Press and is available to purchase now. I received a free Advance Review Copy at Book Expo America in May with no obligation to write a review.

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