My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It is no secret among my acquaintances that I am a Hamilton (and by extension Lin-Manuel Miranda) fanatic. I never thought myself a scholar of the Founding Fathers, but it turns out, I am! At least the way that Ron Chernow, and now Lin-Manuel have digested this history for me.
I bought the iTunes music album on a lark last summer when getting ready to go on a camping trip. Turns out, our family listened to the soundtrack all the way through in one sitting during our drive out of town and into the Colorado outback. We were mesmerized. My teen son memorized several songs during that trip, sitting in the minivan (willingly!) as the only source of reliable power in the campground, and replaying songs over and over.
It is the quintessential American story, coming in as an “immigrant coming up from the bottom” to work hard and make his way in the land of opportunity. And it is a story of unbridled ambition, meteoric rise, and downfall.
And, of course the duel. I’m actually glad to have THIS be my main knowledge of Hamilton, and not just the famous Milk Industry advertisement, with peanut butter and radio-show call in (watch it again, it’s as good as ever).
What this particular book does for this fanatic, is to explain the back-story of all these songs, the additional Easter-eggs that Lin-Manuel hid in the lyrics, the struggles and triumphs of an ambitious son-of-an-immigrant as he assembles in private, and then in public (Poetry Slam at the White House), this improbable rap-based story about our Founding Fathers.
CMIO’s take? This is fun on so many levels. The Hamilton’s story itself is compelling. Hamilton learns leadership and politics on-the-fly. These lessons still serve us well today, and are applicable to leadership within healthcare organizations “Winning is easy, son … Governing is harder.”
Reading great writing by authors like Chernow is brain-expanding. Watching great art arise from hungry, aspiring artists is inspiring. Reading the backstory lets you feel like an insider.