Book Review: Hamilton by the Slice

Hamilton by the Slice: Falling in Love with Our Most Influential Founding FatherHamilton by the Slice: Falling in Love with Our Most Influential Founding Father by William George Chrystal

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hamilton by the Slice is presented just as the title reads. Bill Chrystal presents short vignettes of Alexander Hamilton’s philosophies on several important topics including War, Economy, Honor, Family, and Faith, among several others. Each topic comprises 2-4 pages, which makes for a quick, efficient read.

Chrystal is the former “semi-permanent guest host” of The Thomas Jefferson Hour with Jefferson scholar Clay Jenkinson. It is ironic that Chrystal has fallen to the dark side by becoming engrossed in Hamilton, Jefferson’s arch enemy. By “falling in love” with Hamilton as the subtitle suggests, Chrystal develops a fawning review of “our most influential founding father.” It is unabashedly positive of Hamilton from start to finish. For example, there is no mention of Hamilton’s (alleged) scheme to manipulate the war bonds market in the post-Revolutionary period so that his political allies could profit. And, even Hamilton’s foolish, and fatal, duel with Vice President Aaron Burr was, in Hamilton’s words, something he had to do for honor or himself, his family, and even his country.

Hamilton by the Slice does not delve deeply into Hamilton as a political figure or as an individual. That is not the book’s intent. But, Chrystal sufficiently condenses the essence of Hamilton into a short and entertaining read that is perfect for newcomers. Even Hamilton detractors must admit that, for better or worse, the America of today is undoubtedly Hamiltonian in its political and economic presence.  To understand Hamilton is to understand America at least at its core. This Jeffersonian reviewer remains skeptical, but more enlightened for having read Chrystal’s work.

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