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Eliza Hamilton: The Extraordinary Life and Times of the Wife of Alexander Hamilton

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From the New York Times bestselling author of Irena’s Children comes a comprehensive and riveting biography of the extraordinary life and times of Eliza Hamilton, the wife of founding father Alexander Hamilton, and a powerful, unsung hero in America’s early days. Fans fell in love with Eliza Hamilton—Alexander Hamilton’s devoted wife—in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s phenomenal musi From the New York Times bestselling author of Irena’s Children comes a comprehensive and riveting biography of the extraordinary life and times of Eliza Hamilton, the wife of founding father Alexander Hamilton, and a powerful, unsung hero in America’s early days. Fans fell in love with Eliza Hamilton—Alexander Hamilton’s devoted wife—in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s phenomenal musical Hamilton. But they don’t know her full story. A strong pioneer woman, a loving sister, a caring mother, and in her later years, a generous philanthropist, Eliza had many sides—and this fascinating biography brings her multi-faceted personality to vivid life. Eliza Hamilton: The Extraordinary Life and Times of The Wife of Alexander Hamilton follows Eliza through her early years in New York, into the ups and downs of her married life with Alexander, beyond the aftermath of his tragic murder, and finally to her involvement in many projects that cemented her legacy as one of the unsung heroes of our nation’s early days. Featuring Mazzeo’s “impeccable research and crafting” (Library Journal), and perfect for fans of the richly detailed historical books by Ron Chernow and Erik Larson, Eliza Hamilton is the captivating account of the woman behind the famous man.


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From the New York Times bestselling author of Irena’s Children comes a comprehensive and riveting biography of the extraordinary life and times of Eliza Hamilton, the wife of founding father Alexander Hamilton, and a powerful, unsung hero in America’s early days. Fans fell in love with Eliza Hamilton—Alexander Hamilton’s devoted wife—in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s phenomenal musi From the New York Times bestselling author of Irena’s Children comes a comprehensive and riveting biography of the extraordinary life and times of Eliza Hamilton, the wife of founding father Alexander Hamilton, and a powerful, unsung hero in America’s early days. Fans fell in love with Eliza Hamilton—Alexander Hamilton’s devoted wife—in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s phenomenal musical Hamilton. But they don’t know her full story. A strong pioneer woman, a loving sister, a caring mother, and in her later years, a generous philanthropist, Eliza had many sides—and this fascinating biography brings her multi-faceted personality to vivid life. Eliza Hamilton: The Extraordinary Life and Times of The Wife of Alexander Hamilton follows Eliza through her early years in New York, into the ups and downs of her married life with Alexander, beyond the aftermath of his tragic murder, and finally to her involvement in many projects that cemented her legacy as one of the unsung heroes of our nation’s early days. Featuring Mazzeo’s “impeccable research and crafting” (Library Journal), and perfect for fans of the richly detailed historical books by Ron Chernow and Erik Larson, Eliza Hamilton is the captivating account of the woman behind the famous man.

30 review for Eliza Hamilton: The Extraordinary Life and Times of the Wife of Alexander Hamilton

  1. 4 out of 5

    TXGAL1

    My goodness; what a captivating and entertaining read! ELIZA HAMILTON: THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE AND TIMES OF THE WIFE OF ALEXANDER HAMILTON, published September 18, 2018, was the first biography ever written about this stalwart early American figure. Tilar J Mazzeo picked a wonderful subject to research and present as an example of a strong woman in colonial America. Eliza Schuyler was a witness to the birth of our country and knew many of those that had decision-making powers in its shaping. She My goodness; what a captivating and entertaining read! ELIZA HAMILTON: THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE AND TIMES OF THE WIFE OF ALEXANDER HAMILTON, published September 18, 2018, was the first biography ever written about this stalwart early American figure. Tilar J Mazzeo picked a wonderful subject to research and present as an example of a strong woman in colonial America. Eliza Schuyler was a witness to the birth of our country and knew many of those that had decision-making powers in its shaping. She was the wife of Alexander Hamilton, but Eliza could very well have been the wife of any number of influential men during this period and still left her mark in history. A tomboy growing up, Eliza developed into a steadfast woman with a spine of steel. Her life was laser focused on her husband and family—they were her everything. All the while, she was the unwavering support for all in her circle. From her cradle to her deathbed, Eliza’s life was spread upon the pages of her biography that was a result of the research of letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, etc. Eliza Hamilton’s life was a well-lived life and wonderfully recounted in this book. Never boring and always interesting, ELIZA HAMILTON was a delight to read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and gave it a 5-star rating. An unknown bonus to me, at least a dozen color and black and white portraits were contained in the back of the ebook. Fantastic!!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Reading this was an absolute waste of time & I do not understand how the term "biography" can be attached to this. Biographical fiction? Yes. But this is not a biography. The way the author wrote this was incredibly frustrating, starting with the first sentence on the first page: "Eliza blushed. It was a beautiful letter." After reading the first page, I actually checked to make sure this was a biography and not another fictional account of her life. The rest of the book continued this way, with Reading this was an absolute waste of time & I do not understand how the term "biography" can be attached to this. Biographical fiction? Yes. But this is not a biography. The way the author wrote this was incredibly frustrating, starting with the first sentence on the first page: "Eliza blushed. It was a beautiful letter." After reading the first page, I actually checked to make sure this was a biography and not another fictional account of her life. The rest of the book continued this way, with the author filling in holes with her own ideas of what Eliza would have said or done in a situation, based on what little we know of her. There aren't a lot of primary source documents authored by Eliza, so most of what the author relies on are other peoples REACTIONS to her letters & actions. Yes, you can make inferences from that, but the fact is that since we don't have letters or diaries from Eliza for the bulk of her life, most of what is written here is sappy conjecture. The theory about the Maria Reynolds scandal was also a bit over the top. (view spoiler)[The author believes the idea that there was no actual affair, and that the Reynolds Pamphlet was just a cover up for Hamilton's shady financial dealings, and that Eliza went along with the deceit to protect the male members of her family from debtors prison. (hide spoiler)] Is that theory true? Maybe. But in making this theory look better, she deliberately left out information about Maria Reynolds that other historians have included in their telling of these events: like the affidavit from the son of Maria's first land lady in Philadelphia, attesting to her wild mood swings & that she would "insinuate herself on certain high & influential characters". In his statement he also stated that the Reynolds' slept in separate beds when they moved to new lodgings, and that "gentlemen left letters in her entryway" and "at night she would fly off as supposed to answer their contents". She also fails to mention that Maria Reynolds went on to marry Jacob Clingman (before her divorce was finalized), who was a friend of James Reynolds, and was arrested with him. But none of this is ever mentioned. She gives the Hamilton Musical version of the affair, and then spends a good chunk of the book giving validation to her theory. But my biggest issue with this book is the amount of time that her post Hamilton life receives: 53 pages. She lived without him for almost 50 years. This section of her life deserves more than a pathetic 50 pages.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jan Priddy

    "Aaron Burr was famously louche and horny." What can I say about a sentence combining a high school senior's vocabulary word with slang? Not to mention "a hot bullet tore through Hamilton's abdomen, shattering his rib cage." Nothing actually wrong with either one, except that I found sentence structures like this gave me pause on almost every page. And then the lines such as: "Those words echoed for Hamilton, who lay very still until he heard the quiet breath of his child sleeping." There is no "Aaron Burr was famously louche and horny." What can I say about a sentence combining a high school senior's vocabulary word with slang? Not to mention "a hot bullet tore through Hamilton's abdomen, shattering his rib cage." Nothing actually wrong with either one, except that I found sentence structures like this gave me pause on almost every page. And then the lines such as: "Those words echoed for Hamilton, who lay very still until he heard the quiet breath of his child sleeping." There is no reference for this interjection of interior thoughts and invisible actions and motivations, because it is pure guesswork. The author does this often, beginning with the first line of the book. Lots of marginally relevant research cited in direct quotations from letters, but then even more pure conjecture that is not at all believable. I wish, if she had actually wanted to write a novelized version of Eliza Hamilton's life, she had not pretended to be writing history. I wish she had made up her mind to tell what is known as fact or to make up a better story—instead of pretending she could do both at the same time. By the end I did not like any member of this family. Putting it kindly, Hamilton was a rogue and his wife was a doormat. As one example, Hamilton may have forged letters supposedly written to him by a married woman in order to avoid being prosecuted for financial impropriety. Or maybe, when he publicly confessed the affair, he was not destroying an innocent married woman's life, but telling the truth and only ruining Eliza's life. He left her $50,000 in debt, in part because he always had her living at some distance from the city where he worked and maybe (according to him, certainly) was having affairs. He praised his wife in letters, promised for all the years of his marriage that they would be together and they rarely were, though he did manage to keep her pregnant. Perhaps it was Hamilton who was "famously louche and horny." He also bought slaves, and admitted to marrying Eliza for her money, though he did find her biddable and "handsome" but not beautiful. Somehow she managed her family's accounts for years but was completely ignorant of debt or her husband's sexual, political, and money troubles? Why don't I believe it? What was he thinking? Few of the rich men or wanna-be rich men of his era bear close scrutiny. This was supposed to be Eliza's story, but the 50 years she lived after her husband's death are covered in a snap. I was kind of disgusted by the end of it. Also: The family tree at the front of the book should be helpful but is unreliable. Birthdates in particular are not accurate. One couple seem to have birthed their first child when both mother and father were under the age of 7. Eliza's birthdate is listed as a year before her older sister's. I spent a lot of time on Wikipedia verifying relationships and dates. I did learn a great deal reading this book, but I credit my own reading-between-the-lines and independent research more than this author.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kathi Johnson

    I can't understand the high ratings this book has garnered or why it is classified as a biography. The research is sloppy and the fictionalized additions by the author don't add to the book's credibility. The book's publication soon after the Hamilton musical's amazing success makes me question the timing and perhaps the author's motivation in writing the book. Eliza Hamilton was an intriguing personality in history and deserves a proper biography. I can't understand the high ratings this book has garnered or why it is classified as a biography. The research is sloppy and the fictionalized additions by the author don't add to the book's credibility. The book's publication soon after the Hamilton musical's amazing success makes me question the timing and perhaps the author's motivation in writing the book. Eliza Hamilton was an intriguing personality in history and deserves a proper biography.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Saunders

    Add Tilar J. Mazzeo's Eliza Hamilton to the list of books that wouldn't exist without a certain musical's success. Whereas most authors writing about Alexander Hamilton's wife choose the format of fiction, Mazzeo attempts to write a biography, and the reader is left wondering whether it's worth the effort. Certainly Mazzeo's book is written with a variety of novelistic flourishes (frequently inserting herself into characters' private thoughts, for instance) that detract from the claim of nonfict Add Tilar J. Mazzeo's Eliza Hamilton to the list of books that wouldn't exist without a certain musical's success. Whereas most authors writing about Alexander Hamilton's wife choose the format of fiction, Mazzeo attempts to write a biography, and the reader is left wondering whether it's worth the effort. Certainly Mazzeo's book is written with a variety of novelistic flourishes (frequently inserting herself into characters' private thoughts, for instance) that detract from the claim of nonfiction; she also peppers the text with Hamilton lyrics (one chapter is literally titled "All of the Schuyler Girls - and Peggy") which, at the risk of seeming snobbish, doesn't vouch for her reliability. She also makes the bizarre claim that Hamilton never actually engaged in an affair with Maria Reynolds; Mazzeo's "evidence," such as it is, is an assertion that Alexander was simply too smart to cheat on his wife (!?!). But the problem here is deeper: the vast majority of the book's devoted to Eliza's marriage to Alexander, which is arguably the least interesting part of her life. She grew into a formidable person in her own right, as a philanthropist and political activist, after her husband's death; unfortunately, Mazzeo seems more interested in Eliza the long-suffering, dutiful wife than the woman who belatedly, but forcefully "made herself part of the narrative." The result is a book that does little credit to this "best of wives and best of women," rendering her a supporting player to her husband even in her own biography.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    The author states that she is not a historian; this is the truest thing she's written in the entire book. I've spent the last year or so doing an in-depth survey of Alexander Hamilton's life, times, and legacy, and along the way, I've also learned quite a bit about Eliza and the Schuyler family (even visiting their homes in Albany & Saratoga). I don't expect every book I read to be a doctorate-level dissertation, but this... this was some really BAD history. For one thing, the author couldn't seem The author states that she is not a historian; this is the truest thing she's written in the entire book. I've spent the last year or so doing an in-depth survey of Alexander Hamilton's life, times, and legacy, and along the way, I've also learned quite a bit about Eliza and the Schuyler family (even visiting their homes in Albany & Saratoga). I don't expect every book I read to be a doctorate-level dissertation, but this... this was some really BAD history. For one thing, the author couldn't seem to decide if she was writing a novel or a biography. With a novel, you can place your characters in imagined situations and give them pretty words to say. If you're writing non-fiction, it's best to stay away from flights of fancy unless you have historical evidence to back it up with. Mazzeo is woefully lacking in her evidence--I'll come back to this!--and gives as fact situations that did not exist. When the book's prelude opens with a description of Eliza's thoughts & feelings as she reads a letter from her fiance, I hoped that it was just a fanciful re-imagination that would give way to an actual historical account, but unfortunately, the entire book was written this way. Too much emphasis on sweaty palms and heaving breasts, not nearly enough on verifiable facts! What historical accounts do make their way into the text are often wildly misconstrued. Mazzeo clearly empathizes with Eliza, to the detriment of all those around her. Angelica & Alexander certainly come off badly, but the author even casts TENCH TILGHMAN as a rake, based on her interpretation of a few vague lines in his memoirs (I've searched for further proof of his womanizing and come up empty-handed). The most absurd part of all is when Mazzeo repeats claims that Hamilton wrote the 'Reynolds Pamphlet' (his confession to an extra-marital affair) to cover up for the fact that he was embezzling money from the government for his in-laws! This is based on the scurrilous accusations of 18th C. partisan journalists and one historian, Julian P. Boyd, from the mid-20th C. Not only were there several investigations into the Treasury Secretary's records both during AND after his tenure--none of which turned up a single shred of evidence--but Hamilton & Philip Schuyler both died more-or-less insolvent. The author's greatest sins of all, IMHO, are in her footnotes & bibliography. Many of her sources are not historical documents at all, but articles off of websites. THE INTERNET IS NOT A PRIMARY SOURCE, FOLKS. Some of her more spurious claims can be traced to faulty or biased material (including the single worst book I've read on Hamilton, Tucker's 'Alexander Hamilton's Revolution.' If an author cannot spell your subject's name correctly--Tucker's book refers to 'Elizabeth Schuler Hamilton' at one point--maybe you shouldn't rely on his information?). When she *does* refer to primary documents, Mazzeo makes some major errors. In one instance, she mixes up & mis-attributes several letters by John Adams; Adams notoriously slandered Hamilton after his death, but where Mazzeo points to his letters with Dr Benjamin Rush, most of the information she quotes came from a letter TO Adams, where the writer is *refuting* the claims of serial adultery on Hamilton's part. TL;DR - save yourself the trouble and avoid this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    I requested this book as soon as I saw it pop up on NetGalley. Eliza Hamilton has an amazing story that hasn't been comprehensively explored. She is often in the background of her husband's story, despite living over twice as long as he did. I have not read a book, fiction or nonfiction, that gives a satisfactory and complete account of Eliza's post-Alexander years. This book promised to be the one I was looking for. But it's not. Not by a long shot. As many other reviewers have pointed out, the a I requested this book as soon as I saw it pop up on NetGalley. Eliza Hamilton has an amazing story that hasn't been comprehensively explored. She is often in the background of her husband's story, despite living over twice as long as he did. I have not read a book, fiction or nonfiction, that gives a satisfactory and complete account of Eliza's post-Alexander years. This book promised to be the one I was looking for. But it's not. Not by a long shot. As many other reviewers have pointed out, the author seems uncertainly wavering between writing a novel and a biography. Lines such as this one appear throughout the book: "Eliza was frantic and had a terrible sense of foreboding. She wanted to come home." Thoughts are also put into other people's heads: "What upset his political enemies were Alexander's words, which were elegant, powerful, and persuasive. They hated his mind." The author seems to know what Eliza was doing at moments that passed unrecorded: "Eliza settled back and smiled to herself." Sources are rarely cited, though very specific statements are made about people's motivations, personalities, and relationships. The most significant example of this is when the author claims that it is very likely that the Reynolds affair was no affair at all but a cover story to avoid persecution for insider trading. The greatest defense for this seems to be that the author cannot imagine the Eliza "she knows" faithfully defending Alexander's name for 55 years after his death if there was any truth to the pamphlet that Alexander himself wrote. My problem with this reasoning is that I don't see any reason to doubt that the Eliza described in this book would forgive an affair and defend her husband's more positive attributes until her death. She was a strong, intelligent, devoted woman, but she was also a woman of her time and women of the 18th century didn't publicly air their dirty laundry. It is likely that in Eliza's mind, an affair reflected as poorly on her as a wife as it did on Alexander as a husband. If Alexander was guilty of fraud, why did he leave Eliza impoverished? Could Mazzeo's theory be true? Possibly, but there's no evidence to back it up. The basis of the frequently made assertion - that Maria Reynolds had been willing to testify that the affair didn't happen - was unclear. As usual, Eliza's life is overwhelmed by Alexander. The years after his death are filled with Eliza longing for him, rather than giving greater detail of her accomplishments. This book carries the subtitle, "The extraordinary life and times of the wife of Alexander Hamilton," but very little is included to draw the reader into Eliza's everyday life. We are told that she (and her mother, sisters, & daughters) were raised to manage a household & were therefore good at organizing charities, but we are told nothing of what that would entail or what duties Eliza would perform on a daily basis. I would have loved more factual information like this rather than supposition regarding relationships and other unknowns. Maybe my hopes for this book were too high, but I will continue to wait for Elizabeth Hamilton to get the biography she deserves. Thank you to NetGalley for my copy of this book. Opinions are my own.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Mazzeo explores the life and context of Eliza Hamilton--her family network of wealthy Dutch patroons, the American Revolution, her sketchy in-laws (Angelica and Cornelia picked creeps with whom to elope), the financial boom of the 1790s, Hamilton's status as an outsider favorite of the Washingtons and user of the Schuyler network, the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia and the four decades of widowhood and philanthropy. This is well-researched, but popularly formatted with references in the b Mazzeo explores the life and context of Eliza Hamilton--her family network of wealthy Dutch patroons, the American Revolution, her sketchy in-laws (Angelica and Cornelia picked creeps with whom to elope), the financial boom of the 1790s, Hamilton's status as an outsider favorite of the Washingtons and user of the Schuyler network, the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia and the four decades of widowhood and philanthropy. This is well-researched, but popularly formatted with references in the back, which makes weighing the author's interpretation of things difficult, especially an assertion that the Maria Reynolds affair was cover for financial scandal, not a sexual infidelity.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Momof4

    The blurb on the cover states: “Tilar Mazzeo brings Eliza Hamilton to life...fast-paced and reads like a novel.” And why does it read like a novel? Because that’s what it IS! Just how, pray tell, does Mazzeo know how Hamilton thought, acted, or felt? How does Mazzeo constantly know Hamilton’s emotional state, or what she did down to the last minute of every waking day? Short answer: She doesn’t — she can’t. She can only imagine and infer, which, my friends, is FICTION when put in writing. Eliza Ham The blurb on the cover states: “Tilar Mazzeo brings Eliza Hamilton to life...fast-paced and reads like a novel.” And why does it read like a novel? Because that’s what it IS! Just how, pray tell, does Mazzeo know how Hamilton thought, acted, or felt? How does Mazzeo constantly know Hamilton’s emotional state, or what she did down to the last minute of every waking day? Short answer: She doesn’t — she can’t. She can only imagine and infer, which, my friends, is FICTION when put in writing. Eliza Hamilton is perhaps the most intriguing woman of 18th century America. She deserves better than this breathlessly written, overwrought soap opera on paper, whose only reason (let’s be honest) for existence is the resurgence of interest in Alexander Hamilton thanks to the brilliant Lin-Manuel Miranda — who just happens to be mentioned in the book sleeve synopsis. Coinkydink? I think not. Books like this piss me off: badly written fiction masquerading as meticulously researched biography, and some readers treating it as such. But I do thank Ms. Mazzeo for this unintentionally hilarious (to me, anyway) passage: “Now the worry was that her despair would cause her to lose the baby. It certainly would prevent her from fast horseback riding.” Good Lord. Ron Chernow has nothing to fear from Tilar Mazzeo. Pass on this, and hope that someday a bona fide historian — or anyone who knows what he or she is doing — writes a credible book that objectively examines the life of this fascinating woman.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn Bashaar

    My husband and I recently saw the musical Hamilton, and like many people who have that pleasure, I was curious to know more about Alexander Hamilton and his wife Eliza. This was a good biography, and I understand it is the ONLY complete biography of Eliza Hamilton. It gave me the information I wanted and was written in a very readable, novelistic form. In several places, Mazzeo assumes that she knows what someone was thinking, which is a little jarring in a serious biography, but in almost every My husband and I recently saw the musical Hamilton, and like many people who have that pleasure, I was curious to know more about Alexander Hamilton and his wife Eliza. This was a good biography, and I understand it is the ONLY complete biography of Eliza Hamilton. It gave me the information I wanted and was written in a very readable, novelistic form. In several places, Mazzeo assumes that she knows what someone was thinking, which is a little jarring in a serious biography, but in almost every case, I felt that the author’s assumptions about her subject’s feelings or thinking were well-researched and probably accurate. It was obvious that Mazzeo not only did research to dig out the facts about Mrs. Hamilton; she also made an attempt to get deep into Eliza’s head, which made the book more interesting to me – and which leads her to a contrarian view of the Reynolds affair. The early American setting is also very well-done. We get a sense for the dangerous frontier that New York state still was early in Eliza’s life, and for the social mores of upper-class life in the early years of our nation’s history. Eliza endures her share of heartbreak and hardship, as well, which made her sympathetic and admirable character. Like my reviews? Check out my blog at http://www.kathrynbashaar.com/blog/ Author of The Saint's Mistress: https://www.bing.com/search?q=amazon....

  11. 5 out of 5

    Katelyn

    I loved this super readable biography of Eliza Hamilton. For anyone who can't get enough of the Hamilton craze, or just wants to learn more about a strong woman coming of age with America, this is a great read. My one caveat is that it's told in such a wonderfully readable style (it's not dry at all), that I was a little uncomfortable with the author authoritatively saying what Eliza's reactions to events, etc were. I wish there was more source material from Eliza herself. However, there's just s I loved this super readable biography of Eliza Hamilton. For anyone who can't get enough of the Hamilton craze, or just wants to learn more about a strong woman coming of age with America, this is a great read. My one caveat is that it's told in such a wonderfully readable style (it's not dry at all), that I was a little uncomfortable with the author authoritatively saying what Eliza's reactions to events, etc were. I wish there was more source material from Eliza herself. However, there's just so much you can know about someone and how they felt. I'm glad that I was able to read a biography about Eliza Hamilton. I'd love more on the Schuyler sisters.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    This is a hard one to rate, simply because I almost feel like it should be under historical fiction rather than Biography. I know there are not a lot of source materials from Eliza herself, but I did not like how the author would infer or state things about Eliza that she actually has no way of knowing. For example, saying that Eliza blushed. Really? How did she know that? I think the author took a lot of leeway. Also, the theory the author raises around the Maria Reynolds scandal is interesting This is a hard one to rate, simply because I almost feel like it should be under historical fiction rather than Biography. I know there are not a lot of source materials from Eliza herself, but I did not like how the author would infer or state things about Eliza that she actually has no way of knowing. For example, saying that Eliza blushed. Really? How did she know that? I think the author took a lot of leeway. Also, the theory the author raises around the Maria Reynolds scandal is interesting and she does have some good arguments for why it could have happened the way she states. But I feel like it was a little too one-sided and maybe the author ignored or did not explore other historical documents that back up the traditional story. She was too focused on making her point to address other historical facts that may not have validated her theory. Also, Eliza lived for 50 years after the death of Alexander. But the author does not spend much time on those 50 years. It is almost as if Eliza's life only mattered while she was married to Alexander.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Donna Sosa

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book is not a biography and the author is simply trying to capitalize on the success of the musical Hamilton. If naming chapters “and Peggy” and “Winter’s Ball” was not evidence enough, the very first line of the Author’s Note quotes the musical as well. At best, this book is an historical fiction, and not a very enjoyable one. I started the book with the expectation of a biography. This delusion was quickly shattered as the book is peppered with expressions like “Eliza smiled” or “Eliza si This book is not a biography and the author is simply trying to capitalize on the success of the musical Hamilton. If naming chapters “and Peggy” and “Winter’s Ball” was not evidence enough, the very first line of the Author’s Note quotes the musical as well. At best, this book is an historical fiction, and not a very enjoyable one. I started the book with the expectation of a biography. This delusion was quickly shattered as the book is peppered with expressions like “Eliza smiled” or “Eliza sighed.” After the realization that I was not reading a biography, reading the book became a chore. I was determined to finish what I started, if for no other reason than to be able to write a fair review based on the label of historical fiction rather than biography. To this point, I am still struggling. I have looked ahead to discover the part of Eliza’s life I was most interested in, the last 50 years after Hamiltons’s death, comprise barely more than 1 page per year, hardly a surprise as the broadway hit about her husband only had 1 song about Eliza’s last 50 years. This is a woman who dined with presidents, had a part in commissioning the Washington monument, founded an orphanage, and the majority of her story as written here is wrapped around her husband and his career and the author’s guesses as to Eliza’s private responses. The policy here seems to be “if we don’t have proof let’s make it up.” Finally, the author’s position on the Reynolds’s affair and subsequent scandal has very little basis in reality. The author assumes that the affair was a cover up for speculating on the part of Alexander and that Eliza knew about all of it the entire time. This seems far fetched and is countered in an actual biography, Hamilton by Ron Chernow- the book upon which the musical is based instead of the other way around. Chernow’s book also only dedicates a few pages at the end to Eliza’s life after Hamilton, but even those few pages are of more substance than the entirety of this book. I would recommend that you don’t waste your time or money.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alexandria

    This book gets two stars because of the subject matter - I’d never rate anything involving Eliza Hamilton lower. If you want to read this biography please understand, though, that it is NOT a biography. This is a work of historical fiction couched as a biography by an author riding on the coattails of Miranda and Chernow. The front cover praise indicates that it “reads like a novel” and it does, because it is. I don’t see how a proper historian writes a biography that focuses almost entirely on This book gets two stars because of the subject matter - I’d never rate anything involving Eliza Hamilton lower. If you want to read this biography please understand, though, that it is NOT a biography. This is a work of historical fiction couched as a biography by an author riding on the coattails of Miranda and Chernow. The front cover praise indicates that it “reads like a novel” and it does, because it is. I don’t see how a proper historian writes a biography that focuses almost entirely on how Eliza thought and felt, without historical proof of these things that are unknowable. Far too many creative liberties were taken by the author in filling in historical gaps with her ideas about what Eliza must have done or thought in private, undocumented moments. I’d love to read a true biography about this woman, but this sadly wasn’t it. I wouldn’t recommend anyone else paying for this book that was clearly only written in an attempt to strike while the Hamilton iron is hot by writing a lazily put together book on a woman who deserves much better than that.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bea Lynch

    I am so disappointedly underwhelmed by this book. As an American Revolution scholar, and Hamilton fan, I was thrilled to see that Eliza finally had her own biography. However, Mazzeo's citations are limited, and she admits in the notes that she is not writing a "dissertation." Regardless, the creative liberties the author takes bring to question "what is fact?" Mazzeo imagines the unseen interactions between Eliza and her family in ways that can never be proven, and while this brings these histo I am so disappointedly underwhelmed by this book. As an American Revolution scholar, and Hamilton fan, I was thrilled to see that Eliza finally had her own biography. However, Mazzeo's citations are limited, and she admits in the notes that she is not writing a "dissertation." Regardless, the creative liberties the author takes bring to question "what is fact?" Mazzeo imagines the unseen interactions between Eliza and her family in ways that can never be proven, and while this brings these historical figures to life, it also leaves space for her to tell half truths and project the narrative the author wants to tell. While I want to believe her, the facts to back up her claims are just not thoroughly provided. I look forward to a more substantiated biography on this wonderful founding mother one day.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joelle

    This was an intriguing glimpse into the lives of Eliza Hamilton and her Revolutionary peers. I’m glad that while this is a biography of Eliza there was a plethora of information about the people who influenced her life and times. I’ve seen plenty about Eliza’s relationship with her husband and sisters, but this book gave me a much more complete picture of her life. I was fascinated by the historic figures she interacted with as well as her unique part of establishing the United States of America This was an intriguing glimpse into the lives of Eliza Hamilton and her Revolutionary peers. I’m glad that while this is a biography of Eliza there was a plethora of information about the people who influenced her life and times. I’ve seen plenty about Eliza’s relationship with her husband and sisters, but this book gave me a much more complete picture of her life. I was fascinated by the historic figures she interacted with as well as her unique part of establishing the United States of America. I highly recommend this biography to American history enthusiasts as well as fans of Hamilton. *I received an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Shoddy research, questionable sources, fictionalized passages, and numerous claims without proof/sources. I can’t finish this book because the author clearly isn’t trustworthy. This is highly disappointing. Eliza deserves better. I hope somewhere there is a scholar writing a better biography of her remarkable life, because I eagerly await being able to read it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Frrobins

    Like many fans of the musical, I was curious about Eliza Hamilton and was excited when I found this biography. I was worried when I saw reviewers, upset over one of the conclusions the author drew, slamming this book as poorly researched. I did go through the citations, which some dismissed as referring to online sources. Those online sources are university databases (Harvard among them) and legitimate academic journals that have been posted online, which do qualify as valid sources and if you g Like many fans of the musical, I was curious about Eliza Hamilton and was excited when I found this biography. I was worried when I saw reviewers, upset over one of the conclusions the author drew, slamming this book as poorly researched. I did go through the citations, which some dismissed as referring to online sources. Those online sources are university databases (Harvard among them) and legitimate academic journals that have been posted online, which do qualify as valid sources and if you go through the citations of moderns books they do increasingly include such online databases, so slamming this book as poorly researched because it includes online sources is disingenuous, especially as including these links also allow readers to easily view the material themselves. Ms. Mazzeo also cites tons of letters, books, and other acceptable material. I am not a historian, but from what I can tell her sources were valid. And history is not a monolithic, black and white study. Ms. Mazzeo presented some material that challenged the narrative presented in the musical, and while I'm not sure I agree with her interpretation, I appreciate that it broadened my understanding of the Reynolds affair. As for the book itself, I did get annoyed with the passages that read like novels, painting a scene and getting into the mind of the subject. I have noticed more biographies doing this, and I wish it would stop. That said, Ms. Mazzeo uses it sparingly, only a paragraph or two to get readers into the scene before reverting to a style more befitting a biography. She would also go chapters without using the novel format, so while it was present it was sparing and not enough for me to ding her on. In fact, I will say is some biographer is bound and determined to use that style, to do it in a manner that Ms. Mazzeo did. That quibble aside, I did really enjoy reading about Eliza Hamilton. It was fascinating reading about a time when New York was the frontier, especially as I grew up reading the Little House books where the frontier was Kansas, and seeing the differences between the two frontiers was captivating. For instance, young Eliza was trusted by her father to help him negotiate with the Iroquois and she was given an Indian name. Relations with the American Indians were far from some Utopian ideal and there was war, but this was a time when there was hope of the two populations coexisting peacefully that was bittersweet to read about and a far cry from how badly things had deteriorated by the time Laura Ingalls Wilder was running through the prairie. This anecdote, as well as anecdotes about how Eliza preferred to spend her time climbing trees, racing horses and, at the age of 80, even going on a continental trip to climb mountains and enjoy nature, rounded Eliza out well and started to fill in more of who she was outside of Alexander Hamilton's wife, if only to a point. That only a few chapters were dedicated to the fifty years after Alexander died that Eliza lived was disappointing. And while Alexander lived, he did dominate the narrative. Perhaps it is inevitable, especially as Eliza burned much of her letters and preferred to stay out of the narrative. Still, I do feel as though I have a better understanding of who Eliza was, as well as who other people in her life were. Sadly, whatever brilliance her sister, Angelica Schuyler Church, possessed gets lost in this book. Angelica came off as foolish and an affluenza case, even if she was dedicated to her family. That said, it did answer some questions I had about Eliza and Alexander's daughter, Angelica Hamilton, who had a mental breakdown after her brother, Philip, died. I had wondered if Angelica Hamilton suffered from schizophrenia, but there wasn't enough information in previous things I've read. Ms. Mazzeo filled in a lot of helpful details, such as how Angelica Hamilton had prodromal symptoms before Philip died and that she would cycle between catatonia, believing her brother and father were alive, and lucid moments that definitely resemble schizophrenia. Sadly Angelica Hamilton likely would have had a mental break regardless, but Philip's death likely hastened it, and I appreciate having my suspicions about the nature of Angelica Hamilton's mental breakdown confirmed. Yet the most pleasant surprise was reading about how the mother of the Schuyler sisters was a tough Revolutionary War heroine in her own right! Really, look up Kitty Schuyler! It was also nice getting a more nuanced portrait of the Hamilton's marriage, including the ongoing conflicts that they fought over and shared purpose that kept them together. As for the Reynolds affair, Ms. Mazzeo makes the claim that Hamilton invented it to cover for financial misdeeds, or the appearance of financial misdeeds, and that Eliza was in on it. This is not a new claim, it is something that James Monroe and Thomas Jefferson and other enemies of Hamilton believed. Ms. Mazzeo admits that there is no proof that the Maria Reynolds affair was a fabrication, and that there was no evidence of financial misdealing on Hamilton's part, but that it made sense to her based on Alexander and Eliza's behavior and how tightly Eliza clung to Alexander after the affair was revealed. I am a counselor who has worked with clients who are attempting to repair their marriage after an affair, and I will say Eliza's behavior is actually not as unusual as it may seem. When some people learn that their partner has cheated some respond by clinging more tightly to prove they are a worthy spouse (and if their partner continues to pull away are usually left embarrassed at how hard they tried to make it work), so I take issue with Ms. Mazzeo's interpretation. Ms. Mazzeo also discounts the possibility that Eliza could have been Alexander's fool, yet just because someone is smart and level headed doesn't mean that they don't have blindspots. To illustrate, look at the reasons Angelica Schuyler Church got married. And Hillary Clinton would be a modern example of a smart, level headed woman whose husband made a fool of her (as well as one whose marriage survived the affair). I will also say that if Alexander had an affair it would make sense that Eliza became so emotionally distraught whenever they were separated after it was revealed. She wasn't there to keep an eye on him. Ms. Mazzeo falls into the error of thinking that smart people always made smart, rational choices when smart people are just as susceptible to dumb mistakes and irrational thinking and having blindspots or being fooled by people as anyone else, so using Eliza's behavior as proof that the Maria Reynold's affair didn't happen isn't as foolproof as it may seem. I do understand how the Maria Reynolds affair being fabricated fit into the narrative that Ms. Mazzeo was building, though. I am not a historian, I have not shifted through the reams of evidence on the Reynolds affair and I don't have the legal knowledge to tell if Hamilton was engaging in financial misdealings (though given that he was known as a financial genius yet was never able to get on firm financial grounds personally, if he was misdealing to line his pockets he was doing a horrible job of it). I have to rely on what historians who have looked at the evidence say and how well they present their case. While I am not convinced that the Reynold's affair was fabricated, I do appreciate that Ms. Mazzeo has broadened my education on the scandal and what Hamilton's enemies thought and presented an alternate point of view. As for the whether the affair was fabricated, hopefully some other historian will decide to write a whole book tackling that question. In all, I enjoyed reading this and learning more about the Hamilton family and Eliza in particular. It is a shame that women were so poorly valued that Eliza underestimated her importance to history and did not feel confident enough in her letters to preserve them. This book did answer some questions that I had and it also opened up new rabbit holes to pursue. I would recommend.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sonja

    I truly enjoyed this book. It is well written and I felt like I was right there with Eliza. Eliza outlived Alexander by 50 years! Well into her 90s. Amazing for the time. Even if you have read bios on Alexander Hamilton this is still very readable. It is the same history but from a different viewpoint. I did feel the author used a little too much artistic license with the private thoughts and possible action of Eliza. Maybe a romantic at heart, not always a bad thing.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Goddard

    What a disappointment. I was so excited to think that at last there would be a biography of Eliza Hamilton. Nope. This is NOT a biography

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    When a book starts off with the birth and the death dates wrong of some of the most important people in Eliza's life, you know you're not reading quality literature When a book starts off with the birth and the death dates wrong of some of the most important people in Eliza's life, you know you're not reading quality literature

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    This is fiction - not a biography. The author even wrote the birth years incorrectly on the family tree for Eliza and Anjelica. Do not read. Stick with Chernow.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Karly Hanna

    This was a book written in 2018, hot on the tail of the Hamilton craze, written by a professor of English. So while I agree with a majority of the reviews, it is to be expected. The first full length biography of Eliza is, sadly, a piece of historical fiction. It is imaginative and speculative to a great fault, so much so that I have a hard time trusting anything this author says. Her main argument of the book is that the Reynolds pamphlet was a cover for Alexander's inside trading during the Was This was a book written in 2018, hot on the tail of the Hamilton craze, written by a professor of English. So while I agree with a majority of the reviews, it is to be expected. The first full length biography of Eliza is, sadly, a piece of historical fiction. It is imaginative and speculative to a great fault, so much so that I have a hard time trusting anything this author says. Her main argument of the book is that the Reynolds pamphlet was a cover for Alexander's inside trading during the Washington administration. There may be some reason to believe this, based on her ill-cited evidence, but the rest of the book fails to create an atmosphere in which I trust her judgement of Eliza's character or her thoroughness of research. Throughout the book, instead of receiving facts to make my own judgments, I am pushed to view the people listed through the author's eyes and with her opinions. This is a step beyond taking a murky event and creating a clear narrative for the sake of biography (Chernow does this with the Reynolds scandal, too, a lot of biographers do). Mazzeo straight up calls Angelica spoiled in her own voice, which is a giant misstep. The book is not carefully fact-checked, either. In the family tree graphic, it lists both Peggy and Phillip Hamilton as dying in 1808. They both died in 1801. Also, she misquotes the musical in her author's note, something that Manuel Miranda's Eliza never said, a misquoted line which she lists as her reason for writing the book. It literally takes a listen on YouTube to confirm this. Yikes. The benefit of this novel is two-fold: one, that it will hopefully incite a credited historian to write a proper biography, and two, it has made me want to do my own research.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I enjoyed this book, but it read as much like a fictionalized account of someone's life as an actual biography, maybe more so. There were many scenes in which Eliza's (and Alexander's) inner thoughts or physical reactions, like blushing or calmly sighing, were stated as fact-- though they couldn't have been known. The author used a lot of mixed language when talking about enslaved people, some of which does justice to the lives those people were living against their will, but much of which conti I enjoyed this book, but it read as much like a fictionalized account of someone's life as an actual biography, maybe more so. There were many scenes in which Eliza's (and Alexander's) inner thoughts or physical reactions, like blushing or calmly sighing, were stated as fact-- though they couldn't have been known. The author used a lot of mixed language when talking about enslaved people, some of which does justice to the lives those people were living against their will, but much of which continues to white-wash that part of our history. I expect more out of a book written in 2018. I'm also incredibly disappointed with how little of this book (the last ~50 pages) was dedicated to the 50+ years that Eliza lived after Alexander Hamilton died. She lived far more of her life without him than with him, and she did some pretty incredible things during that time. Nonetheless, I understand that Eliza left little original source material and that no one else bothered to keep archives on 18th & 19th-century women. Despite its flaws, this is an enjoyable and interesting read that I'd probably have rated much higher if it was sold as historical fiction instead of a biography.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Michael Denton

    It’s a quick read but you quickly tell that the author makes up for the lack of source material on Eliza by filling in the blanks herself. While it’s nice to have the perspective of Eliza and what was going on at home for Alexander there are many times where the read has to ask “how would this author know that?” This would be fine except for her main theory on the Reynolds Pamphlet. This argument is poorly made and relies solely on interpreting Eliza’s behavior instead of attempting to make an a It’s a quick read but you quickly tell that the author makes up for the lack of source material on Eliza by filling in the blanks herself. While it’s nice to have the perspective of Eliza and what was going on at home for Alexander there are many times where the read has to ask “how would this author know that?” This would be fine except for her main theory on the Reynolds Pamphlet. This argument is poorly made and relies solely on interpreting Eliza’s behavior instead of attempting to make an argument based on the texts. It’s then treated as undisputed fact for the rest of the book, to great annoyance.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jana

    I take a lot of issues with this book. The biggest issue I have with this book is that the author couldn't seem to decide if it's a biography or historical fiction. A lot of the assumptions about Eliza's feelings didn't seem to be founded on anything. She also didn't seem to do any research because some information I could dispute with a quick google search and everything that she cited were all letters and nothing else. The author can write, I'll give her that but it shouldn't be classified as I take a lot of issues with this book. The biggest issue I have with this book is that the author couldn't seem to decide if it's a biography or historical fiction. A lot of the assumptions about Eliza's feelings didn't seem to be founded on anything. She also didn't seem to do any research because some information I could dispute with a quick google search and everything that she cited were all letters and nothing else. The author can write, I'll give her that but it shouldn't be classified as a biography. It's not one.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

    So interesting! A great look into her life.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    Excellent book, that is as much concerned with the details of being alive at that time, as with the historical events. Author's Notes at the end are very good. Excellent book, that is as much concerned with the details of being alive at that time, as with the historical events. Author's Notes at the end are very good.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cherie

    What an amazing woman and what an amazing story!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    ELIZA HAMILTON – Who Tells the Story? http://fangswandsandfairydust.com/201... After the death of Alexander Hamilton, Eliza came into her own. I had recently read another book on my own (I think); a more fictionalized account of Eliza Hamilton but was interested in this biography — a non-fictionalized accounting of her life. There are instances where I wondered if if there is some supposition about feelings and activity – like Eliza’s heart pounding, rushing to dress when Iroquois warriors where m ELIZA HAMILTON – Who Tells the Story? http://fangswandsandfairydust.com/201... After the death of Alexander Hamilton, Eliza came into her own. I had recently read another book on my own (I think); a more fictionalized account of Eliza Hamilton but was interested in this biography — a non-fictionalized accounting of her life. There are instances where I wondered if if there is some supposition about feelings and activity – like Eliza’s heart pounding, rushing to dress when Iroquois warriors where marching towards the Schuyler house or the Army encampment in Saratoga. Biography’s can be dreadfully dull and I very other tend to return them to the library before I’ve finished them. This story, with many quotations from letters is not at all dry. The author refers to the musical Hamilton, by Lin Manuel Miranda, as a starting point for a couple of ideas, such as the scene wherein Eliza burned some of her letters. This is in relation to any role she might have played in the affair Hamilton may or may not have had and the way his coincided with his political and financial life. It was hard to read that Eliza would even have had a part in the affair; in the other novelized book I read, the affair most definitely occurred and was devastating for her. We look at women’s lives at the time and can see, in Eliza’s life both the understanding of her place in the time, an her frustration and anger with men’s behavior. Losing two people to the foolish practice of dueling as a matter of honor literally destroys Eliza’s life. But, the caveat is that we all imagine women of of another time are conditioned with the same societal norms as are we. It is something we have to recall as we read anything, but especially looking back in time and/or across cultures. The story is very readable, and though filled with facts, is not a difficult-to-listen-to audiobook. It’s not difficult to trace the lines from no one event or person to the next. Sometimes in an audiobook it is easy to become lost in the factual information, and without the ability to flip back and forth easily it can be confusing —But not here. January LaVoy, the narrator, has a lovely voice with a natural cadence and as the book would probably sound in my head were I reading it. And without using voices for the characters in Eliza’s life. There’s no “narracting” in this biography. Perhaps the most fascinating period in Eliza’s life begins after Alexander Hamilton’s gruesome death; she lived on for fifty years and she wasn’t sitting on her hands that whole time. After she was finished raising her children, she was able to embark on a life of philanthropy for, essentially, orphans in helping to found the New York Orphan Asylum Society’s first facility. She also made several trips, moved Washington DC, and even traveled to the western frontier! She became a close friend of Martha Washington. Addressing the question posed in Hamilton! the musical: “Who lives, who dies, who tells the story”? the answer may be that, while some of Eliza’s life was about supporting her husband, Eliza’s life told her own story of resilience and courage. Mazzeo helps give Eliza’s story life and women’s lives can be difficult to research, especially when some of their letters are destroyed. She was a remarkable woman, and contributed much to the country in all the ways that were possible for a woman of her age. The well-researched story is well-written, easy to follow in the audio format and nicely chronicles the life of one of America’s founding women. I vote “Aye!” for this delightful biography.

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