Alexander Hamilton! The world will never be the same.

hamilton-musical

In 2016 you can be sitting in a waiting room while the couple next to you passionately discuss the love life of the first Treasury Secretary of the United States. Friends are debating the prudence of the US sending aid to France during the French Revolution. What is happening? Why is revolutionary history suddenly so popular?  Why are people declaring that “They are not throwing away their shot!”? Blame the Grammy winning Broadway musical about Alexander Hamilton. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s production “Hamilton: An American Musical” uses a mix of rap and hip hop performed by an extremely talented cast to bring the world of Hamilton to life. It is unique and powerful and has become a sensation. Who would have seen this coming? Maybe only a visionary like Alexander Hamilton.

Lin-Manual Miranda said that he randomly picked up a biography about Alexander Hamilton and was fascinated. Hamilton had a uniquely American life, from that of a penniless immigrant to a founding father whose portrait is on the ten dollar bill. Miranda read about his journey and was hooked, and an award winning musical featuring rap-battle style cabinet meetings was born. With a sold-out shows in New York, what is a Hamilton crazed person to do? We hope these suggestions can help.

The Music!

HAMILTON - Public Theater/Newman Theater - 2015 PRESS ART - Lin-Manuel Miranda and the company - Photo credit: Joan Marcus

Photo credit: Joan Marcus

 

You can check out the Original Cast Recording on CD or download it from Hoopla.

You can also listen to Lin-Manual Miranda’s other Broadway hit, the Tony Award winner for Best Musical, “In the Heights”. The story is set over the course of three days, involving a cast characters in the  neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City.

“Blending hip-hop, rap, jazz, pop, salsa and merengue, this buoyant musical also nods reverently to the traditions of the show tune. An uncalculated charmer.” ~Variety

If it’s a revolutionary musical you want and need to hear Jefferson sing, don’t forget about 1776 . This is another musical celebration of the founding of The United States.

If you can put up with a few commercials, then enjoy the entire cast album on YouTube.

 

The Man!

Hamilton Man

The biography which Miranda picked up that inspired his musical was Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. It is a fascinating read that really captures the exciting, crazy, “this can’t all be true” elements of his life.  Be aware the only way to truly capture his life is by devoting 800 pages to it.

If you are looking for a title that is not as long but will still  give you a look into “The Ten Dollar Founding Father’s” life , check these out:

The Quartet : Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 by Joseph Ellis

The Founders and Finance : How Hamilton, Gallatin, and Other Immigrants Forged a New Economy by Thomas K. McCraw

Liberty’s Blueprint : how Madison and Hamilton Wrote the Federalist Papers, Defined the Constitution, and Made Democracy Safe for the World by  Michael I. Meyerson

One of the themes of the musical is how Hamilton “writes like he’s running out of time”. To read  his powerful words, take a look at The Federalist Papers . These are a historic collection of 85 articles and essays written (under the pseudonym Publius) by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay promoting the ratification of the US Constitution.

The Man Who Shot Him!

Duel

Hamilton’s story ends abruptly, thanks to Aaron Burr. The saga of their deadly rivalry and duel is a juicy subject, so if you want to know how something like this could happen many authors have given their take:

Burr, Hamilton, and Jefferson : A Study in Character by Roger G. Kennedy

Duel : Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Future of America by Thomas Fleming

War of Two : Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Duel that Stunned the Nation by John Sedgwick

In the musical Burr and Hamilton tell (or sing) about defending a client in the first murder trial in the brand new United States. If you want to know more about that:

Duel with the Devil : The True Story of How Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr Teamed up to Take on America’s First Sensational Murder Mystery by Paul Collins

What happened next? Burr lived a fascinating  life before and after the infamous duel. In Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr author  Nancy Isenberg takes a long at his life that was so overshadowed by “The Duel” and later his trial for treason. Was Burr really a villain? Isenberg lets you decide.

Miranda’s musical is a favorite to win the Tony for Best Musical and has created cultural phenomenon. All of this started because he decided to pick up a book on someone that he knew little about but thought looked interesting. It’s one of those moments of serendipity librarians live for where the right book finds the right reader. What he learned, mixed with his natural talent and the hard work of many talented artists, brought Hamilton:An American Musical to life.

~Kimberly

Emily Fowler Central Library

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