Alexander Hamilton: The Formative Years Reviews

What the critics are saying about
Alexander Hamilton: The Formative Years

Michael E. Newton's Alexander Hamilton: The Formative Years 400px“In 1800, the topic of Alexander Hamilton’s birth was the subject of criticism to which Hamilton remarked ‘there is much mistake.’ He implored his friends to help set the record straight. Most biographers in the succeeding 215 years did little to correct this mistake or the many others regarding Hamilton’s life. Michael E. Newton’s quest to separate fact from fiction fulfills Hamilton’s plea and provides to those who defend his legacy a comprehensive and thoroughly researched tool to promote the true early life of Alexander Hamilton. These corrections to the record combined with new discoveries make this work a most exciting historiography of Alexander Hamilton.”

 ~ Douglas Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton’s fifth great grandson.

“Michael E. Newton’s Alexander Hamilton: The Formative Years offers the most detailed examination of Hamilton’s early life that I have ever read. Every question and controversy related to this remarkable founding father is presented in a painstakingly thorough and evenhanded manner. I’m somewhat in awe of the task Michael E. Newton has undertaken—he has certainly done his due diligence regarding Alexander Hamilton. This is an invaluable resource, a must have, for serious scholars and students who are interested in the life of Alexander Hamilton.”

Stephen F. Knott is a Professor of National Security Affairs at the United States Naval War College and the author of Alexander Hamilton and the Persistence of Myth.

Alexander Hamilton: The Formative Years by Michael E. Newton provides a comprehensive account of Hamilton’s life from 1757 to 1782, including his birth, childhood, education, participation in pre-Revolution politics in New York, and service in the Revolutionary War, both as Washington’s aide-de-camp and as a military leader. The book takes the reader on a detailed journey through the first half of Hamilton’s life. While many historians have lifted some accepted details of Hamilton’s life from past biographers, Newton has taken 4 years to exhaustively research both primary sources and the existing historical record and thus has the perspective to compare contradictions in the record and uncover new information. Newton’s extensive research efforts enable the reader to understand the historiography behind each of the well-known Hamilton legends he covers, and on some occasions, debunks. During the course of his research, Newton has made several new discoveries, some of which are outlined on his website, including information about Hamilton’s arrival in New York, studies at King’s College, and militia service. Newton’s painstaking devotion to the details of Hamilton’s life is apparent in the extensively footnoted text, and the reader is able to come away with a fresh understanding of Hamilton’s early life. Newton takes the time to explain his research and discovery process to the reader, making it clear where sources disagree with each other so that the reader can form her own opinion. Hamilton’s early life was complex, filled with nuances and conflicting motivations that contributed to his later political and personal decisions. AHTFY lays out these events in a way that provides illumination to the reader on the development of Hamilton’s character.”

It’s Hamiltime! (blog written by Pooja Nair, associate and litigation lawyer in the Los Angeles office of Foley & Lardner LLP)

In Alexander Hamilton: The Formative Years, Michael E. Newton provides a careful, meticulous, and definitive account of the first half of the brief but robust life of Hamilton, arguably the greatest of America’s great founding fathers. Hamilton, we learn, formed himself every bit as much (and more) than his experiences formed him. Newton provides new evidence, objective analysis, and a fresh perspective. Scholarship on Hamilton will only be elevated by this superb performance.”

Richard Salsman is a visiting assistant professor of political science at Duke University.

“Michael E. Newton’s Alexander Hamilton: The Formative Years represents a significant scholarly contribution to the literature regarding the first half of Alexander Hamilton’s remarkable life story and to our understanding of the American Revolution. This extensively researched, incredibly well-documented, theme-based biography reveals new discoveries, debunks previously held myths, and objectively analyzes disputed or unknowable facts. The narrative of Hamilton’s critical role during the American Revolution and his relationships with other key Founding Fathers, most notably George Washington, is enlightening and inspiring. Readers get a fuller sense of Hamilton’s accomplishments and impact during the War for Independence and more accurate insight into the formative years of the man who subsequently shaped America’s foundations. Not only will this book serve as an invaluable reference for decades to come, it is a most engaging read, which any consumer of history books will enjoy. Mr. Newton’s scholarly findings regarding Hamilton’s origins, youth, and service in the American Revolution surpass every book that has preceded it.”

Rand Scholet, President & Founder of the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society (Click here for an interview with Rand Scholet about his review of Alexander Hamilton: The Formative Years)

“Covering Hamilton’s background, birth, and youth in the West Indies and his first decade in the United States, Alexander Hamilton: The Formative Years details Hamilton’s emergence as a revolutionary pamphleteer, military leader, General Washington’s principal, ablest, and most trusted aide-de-camp, and hero of the decisive Yorktown campaign. With encyclopedic knowledge of Hamilton’s life and career and all that has been written about it, including the many contradictions, Michael E. Newton judiciously sorts out what we know and don’t know based on the historical evidence. Where historical actors and later scholars disagree, the author weighs the evidence and presents us with what is most likely based on the extant record. He thereby corrects many false statements and impressions given in the Hamilton literature. Along the way, Mr. Newton also presents a number of new and interesting discoveries. It is a pleasure to read such a deep, informed, and scrupulously documented volume, yet one that is so engaging and well written as to be something of a page-turner.”

Richard Sylla, Henry Kaufman Professor of the History of Financial Institutions and Markets at New York University Stern School of Business

“We now live in the America that Alexander Hamilton launched. Just as Hamilton’s star continues to rise, Michael E. Newton has moved forward with a painstakingly researched and carefully documented biography of the most remarkable of our Founding Fathers. Hamilton’s life story is complex, richly layered, and deserving of the meticulous attention to detail that Michael E. Newton’s work will provide for generations of Americans.”

~ Leonard Zax, President of the Hamilton Partnership for Paterson

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