#HamAlong: In which Hamilton is a Disney Princess

12:55:00 PM

Like (nearly) every other red-blooded American, I've been completely obsessed with the Hamilton Original Broadway Cast Recording. I mentioned it in my December Monthly Scribbles, and I haven't worn myself out yet. And by that I mean I have continued listening to it during every waking moment.

That being said, I was pretty intimidated by the source/inspirational material for Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical - an gobsmacking 818 page biography. Hamilton isn't the only one who writes likes he's running out of time.

I recently made it a goal to read more non-fiction, but this was completely outside my realm of comfort. I was terrified hesitated to pick it up for a couple of weeks, until I discovered a group of bookish individuals who were similarly motivated (and worried they wouldn't follow through). Spearheaded by Alice @ Reading Rambo, the Hamilton Readalong has a reading/posting schedule and hashtag to encourage readers to stick with it and share their thoughts.

So (albeit a little late), I'm jumping in!

Standout Quotes:

"From his illegitimate birth in Nevis to his bloody downfall in Weehawken, Hamilton's life was so tumultuous that only an audacious novelist could have dreamed it up." The more I read, the more I agree! Hamilton's story is larger than life and right out of the pages of a novel. EXCEPT IT HAPPENED. I'm flabbergasted. Remind me to talk about the time he fought a battle/escaped/was reported dead AND SHOWED UP when the message was being relayed.

"Of most compelling interest to our saga, the upstairs living quarters held thirty four books -- the first unmistakable sign of Hamilton's omnivorous, self-directed reading...If Hamilton felt something stiflingly provincial about St. Croix, literature would certainly have transported him to a more exalted realm." In which Chernow parallels Hamilton's journey with that of a Disney princess. Need I say more?

"He had all the magnetic power of a mysterious foreigner and soon made his first friend: a fashionable tailor with the splendid name of Hercules Mulligan," Splendid, indeed. It stuck out to me when his character was introduced in the musical, and I giggled when I read Chernow's thoughts.

"The British were unhinged by the colonists' unorthodox fighting style and shocking failure to abide by the gentlemanly rules of engagement. One scandalized British soldier complained...'What an unfair method of carrying on a war!'" Did this strike anyone else as absolutely hilarious? Who would have thought that reading a book about such a fraught time in history, and a biography at that, would be so entertaining!

Chapters 1-5:

This biography is surprisingly readable - I haven't yet reached a point where I feel as though I'm trying to decipher someone's thesis. This is largely because of how Chernow skillfully assembles fact into narrative, but it's also because (as he mentions pretty early on) Hamilton's life is so unbelievable, "only an audacious novelist could have dreamed it up."

It's awe-inspiring, the kind of story that American Dreams are made of: an orphaned, illegitimate, penniless, self-educated immigrant pulled himself up the ranks of society with his intelligence and work-ethic, until he was powerful enough to cross paths with the most influential men of the time and help shape the nation.

But tragic and tooth-and-nail as his journey is, it's also infused with humor. He makes enemies, flirts incorrigibly, and befriends many. He is always moving, always learning, thinking, creating, and fighting for his place in the world. I guess you could say THE MAN IS NON-STOP. Okay, I'm done. I'll leave you with this:

Let's take a second to appreciate the person who created this (whoever they are) and Alice for sharing it with us, because it's one of those things that's so hilarious because it's so true to life - at least, to my life. If you're interested in joining the HamAlong, it's not too late! Otherwise, let me know what you think about Hamilton - the book OR the musical! Do you love it? Are you ready for people to stop shouting about it? Are you going to add this monstrous biography to your TBR or is it not your thing? Let me know down below. I'll see you (hopefully on schedule) for my next HamAlong update!

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  1. I'm invested. Love the cast recording, got the book (ebook) as a result, doing #HamAlong too. I'm thinking by the end of the book, we'll think it's less funny, but so far, it's easy not to be amused.

    1. I'm definitely invested! I've already read several more chapters. It's hard not to be, especially knowing what to expect (more or less) from the cast recording. I know the TERRIBLE AWFUL is coming, but I'm definitely enjoying the relatively lighthearted tone so far.

  2. Oh my gosh, that Disney Princess comparison is just too apt.

    I was really surprised by how, for such a brick of a book (and a crazy-long audio book, which is how I'm doing the #HamAlong), Chernow makes his material so accessible! He packs in so much information but never once makes me feel like I'm listening to a crusty old history tome.

    So glad you're joining in! :)

    1. I'm excited to be joining in! When I read Chernow's choice of words, I HAD to make the Disney princess comparison. I couldn't stop myself.

      As for the book, I agree - as I continue to read, I'm increasingly impressed with the way Chernow is able to synthesize and summarize vast amounts of information. I can't imagine how much research the man has done in his life!

  3. Before anything else, yes I LOVE this post title.

    I totally forgot about the fact that everyone thought he was dead and then he just shows up. I imagine he did that while everyone was crying and he sort of sneaks in, trying to look all somber cos clearly something terrible happened and he doesn't want to spoil the mood.

    1. Haha thank you! I thought it was a fun title. I can totally imagine that scene the way you described it, with Hamilton whispering to people, trying to figure out what terrible thing happened and then everyone FREAKING OUT when they realized it was him. His life was so absurd and awesome.

  4. "Remind me to talk about the time he fought a battle/escaped/was reported dead AND SHOWED UP when the message was being relayed"

    OMG yes I almost forgot about that! "Haha, psych, I'm not dead at all."

    And now I'll have the image of Belle twirling around with Hamilton's face in my head all day. Awesome :)

    1. Haha right?! I was like Chernow, dude, you've got to be making this up. Hamilton's life is so ridiculous. And the more I thought about it, the more the Belle comparison totally works! So I'm going with it :)


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