Not Just Another Grouchy Grammarian

Musings about language, books, grammar, and writing in general

Review: The Jewish World of Alexander Hamilton, by Andrew Porwancher

Okay, Andrew Porwancher’s The Jewish World of Alexander Hamilton took a long time to read. However, that was because there was so much information to digest (not to mention interruptions for health reasons and family issues).

Mr. Porwancher digs deeply into Hamilton’s origins and career and also paints a fascinating picture of how America transitioned from a colony to a democratic republic. Hamilton was, perhaps, the most complex of our Founding Fathers, and the book provides a nice counterbalance to all the furor created by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s outstanding musical and Ron Chernow’s fascinating book.

Among other things, it compares Hamilton’s relationship with Jews to that of the other Founding Fathers, which let me see a lot that I didn’t know before. it also examines several of the legal cases Hamilton took on and the greater meaning and impacts those had on colonial Jews.

What the book does NOT do, is proclaim definitively whether or not Hamilton himself was Jewish by birth. He leaves that for the reader to determine, although he notes that since Hamilton’s mother had converted to Judaism it is a distinct possibility.

Whether you agree or not, however, Porwancher provides a stunning, in-depth look at a complex man living in complex, turbulent times. So, for me, it’s definitely a must-read.

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