Thursday, October 13, 2016

REVIEW: The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs

The Hamilton Affair
by Elizabeth Cobbs

Publisher: Arcade
Page Count: 408
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Format: Hardcover

How got: free ARC from publisher via GR

First attention getter: primary characters


From GoodReads:

Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Revolution, and featuring a cast of iconic characters such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Marquis de Lafayette,The Hamilton Affair tells the sweeping, tumultuous, true love story of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler, from tremulous beginning to bittersweet ending—his at a dueling ground on the shores of the Hudson River, hers more than half a century later after a brave, successful life.

Hamilton was a bastard son, raised on the Caribbean island of St. Croix. He went to America to pursue his education. Along the way he became one of the American Revolution’s most dashing—and unlikely—heroes. Adored by Washington, hated by Jefferson, Hamilton was a lightning rod: the most controversial leader of the American Revolution.

She was the well-to-do daughter of one of New York’s most exalted families—feisty, adventurous, and loyal to a fault. When she met Alexander, she fell head over heels. She pursued him despite his illegitimacy, and loved him despite his infidelity. In 1816 (two centuries ago), she shamed Congress into supporting his seven orphaned children. Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton started New York’s first orphanage. The only “founding mother” to truly embrace public service, she raised 160 children in addition to her own.

My Thoughts:

Star Rating - 5

I’ve always liked Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father who thought a strong central government was key to success and a strong financial basis for a new nation key to growth. I’ve read where he’s been demonized by his fellow patriots for his views. It was a fantastic change to see him humanized in the middle, neither a firm monarchist nor a superhuman figure. His relationship with Elizabeth Schuyler is explored with as adept a skill. I thoroughly enjoyed this look at an often misunderstood man.

As mentioned, Hamilton was portrayed fantastically as a three-dimensional man. I loved seeing his journey in growth from a man of uncertain beginnings to a deviser of national finances and industrial growth. Each step in his life from apprentice to warrior to father to Secretary of the Treasury is given equal measure. I liked seeing his insecurities in regards to his origins and what he deserved out of life; he grew from them to become real to me beyond words on a page.

I also liked how the author portrayed Elizabeth, though she didn't spend as much time on her. She's made out as a practical, sensible woman looking to make her own way in the world and love in marriage, a thought far removed from the norm of the day. I felt she was a wonderful balance for Alexander's ambition and intelligence.

Seeing the American Revolution, early Colonial society, and the early years of a struggling republic also made for intriguing reading. Besides fighting for a common ideal and enemy, so many opinions and plans were involved with the shaping of our country. It's fascinating to contemplate where the nation might have gone if Jefferson and Madison had had their way...

The author's done a great job of balancing the intimate of characters and relationship with the broadness of history, war, and politics. I got to know the Hamiltons well enough to make them feel real. I feel this is a worthy read for any lover of the era, the American Revolution and Founding Fathers in particular.


  1. How timely! I was a little slow picking up on the popularity of the Hamilton stage production, but I had no idea a book was out. PBS is airing a behind-the-scenes documentary of the play later this month (around the 20th). Here's another addition to my TBR list! Thanks for the tip.

    1. I've heard of the play myself but never seen it. I've heard it's a musical?? Yet, this book is definitely one to look into if you're looking for a humanization of this Founding Father. Hamilton is such an intriguing figure to begin with; this book just takes that further. :D

  2. Thanks for a good review of a new-to-me book! I'm deep in HF recently, and venturing from Britain to our country from 18th-20th century. This sounds right up my alley, so I'm going to look for it :)

    1. Very welcome! I've also started contemplating reading more HF from our shores; my usual playground in the past has been medieval Britain and European history in general. I've even been thinking on making that a theme for next year's reading challenge. :)