Hamilton read-along

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell
3 words: enthusiastic, light, informative
Like 60% of the free world, I’ve been sucked into the Hamilton vortex, and each day a different song from the soundtrack accompanies me in my brain. (Here’s the one that makes me laugh every time I listen to it.)

But let’s listen to a Lafayette song, because we’re focusing on that guy here today.
(photo credit: By Daderot – Daderot, CC0, https://commons.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21104068)

He’s a big old important secondary character in the Hamilton story, but in Vowell’s book, he’s at center stage.

And… Dude.
The dude was only 19 years old when he sailed over here from France to take on the British at Washington’s side.
And this is how we know the story’s true, because it’s too unbelievable to be fiction.
Sarah Vowell is a confirmed history nerd, and she’s one of my favorite writers of popular history.  
The woman is enthusiastic, and I’m all about that.
And she’s also hilarious.
Besides filling in the Lafayette story with a great deal of her own panache, Vowell gives us the most perfect vignettes of his allies and foes.
Take this:
“A patchwork of amateur militias made up of barely trained farmers, lawyers, shopkeepers, and artisans who, thanks to a hometown book nerd’s folkloric stunt, drove some of earth’s most experienced professional warriors out of a long-suffering city.
So, the moral of that story, other than never underestimate an independent bookseller, was that the Continental Army and its commander in chief had a soft spot for Chief Artillery Officer Henry Knox.” (pp. 84-86)
That line about independent booksellers full-on delighted me.
The whole book carries on this way, with fascinating anecdotes that bring historical figures to life, and it’s the most fun way (short of a musical) to catch up on the history we either didn’t learn or completely forgot. 

OK. All you Hamilton freaks… I know you’re out there. What’re you reading to go along with the soundtrack?

5 thoughts on “Hamilton read-along

  1. Glad I sold you on this one :-)! I've just taken the audiobook plunge into The Book That Started It All, Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton. It will take me weeks to finish it, and I'm not minding that a bit!

  2. I am reading Washington: A Life, but stalled.
    I read Burr by Gore Vidal
    I read My Theodosia by Anya Seton
    Now I'm working on The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobb.

    And yes, the soundtrack to Hamilton! Always, always, always. I'm on disc 2 right now. "Cabinet Battle #1 and Washington on Your Side are the two running through my head.

    Gotta find the Lafayette book. The town where my Grammie went to college Fayette, MO, is named after America's Favorite Frenchman! I didn't realize that because it's pronounced Fay-ette.

  3. Bybee — You've raised the bar for the rest of us!! Each day I have a different Hamilton song on repeat in my head — usually disc 1 stuff thus far.

    Fayette — excellent bit of trivia!

    Is the Chernow biography of Washington less compelling, or is it just a lot to ask of oneself to read two huge biographies so close together? I'm gathering intel, because I'm tempted to read both.

Comments are closed.