Jeff Wilser: Alexander Hamilton’s Guide to Life

Two centuries after his death, Alexander Hamilton is shining once more under the world s spotlight and we need him now more than ever.
Hamilton was a self-starter. Scrappy. Orphaned as a child, he came to America with nothing but a code of honor and a hunger to work. He then went on to help win the Revolutionary War and ratify the Constitution, create the country s financial system, charm New York s most eligible ladies, and land his face on our $10 bill.The ultimate underdog, he combined a fearless, independent spirit with a much-needed dose of American optimism.
Hamilton died before he could teach us the lessons he learned, but Alexander Hamilton s Guide to Life unlocks his core principles intended for anyone interested in success, romance, money, or dueling. They include:
Speak with Authority Even If You Have None (Career)
Seduce with Your Strengths (Romance)
Find Time for the Quills and the Bills (Money)
Put the Father in Founding Father (Friends & Family)
Being Right Trumps Being Popular (Leadership)
For history buffs and pop-culture addicts alike, this mix of biography, humor, and advice offers a fresh take on a nearly forgotten Founding Father, and will spark a revolution in your own life.”

Ah, Alexander Hamilton. He has gone from historical obscurity to being our most famous founding father–as he rightly should be. It’s amazing, once you take a close look at him, how much A. Ham really contributed to every single piece of our government…for better or worse.

Hamilton really did write like he was running out of time, and he had so much to tell us. Jeff Wilser broke down some of his more prolific statements into a sort of Founding Father self-help book. It’s full of witticisms and insightful commentary, modernized of course.

It’s supposed to be the type of book Hamilton would have written if he would have had time to write such a thing. Of course, if he had…it would have been four volumes and probably would have included some kind of impossibly boring personal finance plan along with the life advice. I’m glad Wilser left that chapter out. As it is, the Guide is a funny way to take in much of the history we already know from Chernow’s massive biography, while singing along to LMM’s cast album. There’s no mistaking who the author is targeting here. Luckily…who ISN’T a fan of the musical at this point?

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Blogging for Books and Three Rivers Press provided a copy of this book for an unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.

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Hamilton: The Revolution

Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Eleven Tony Awards, including Best Musical

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theater, this once-in-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims our country’s origins for a diverse new generation.

HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages–“since before this was even a show,” according to Miranda–traces its development from an improbable perfor­mance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.

Their account features photos by the renowned Frank Ockenfels and veteran Broadway photographer, Joan Marcus; exclusive looks at notebooks and emails; interviews with Questlove, Stephen Sond­heim, leading political commentators, and more than 50 people involved with the production; and multiple appearances by Presi­dent Obama himself. The book does more than tell the surprising story of how a Broadway musical became a national phenomenon: It demonstrates that America has always been renewed by the brash upstarts and brilliant outsiders, the men and women who don’t throw away their shot.

I just finished reading what is affectionately called The Hamiltome. So don’t worry, I’m not sobbing or anything.

I promise.

I’m perfectly fine.

And if you believe that, then look under your seats because I bought you all front row tickets to tonight’s performance of Hamilton.

I didn’t think it was possible for me to love this musical any more than I already do, at least not until I actually get to see it. Then I read the book. MY HEART IS EXPLODING. With as shitty as the last two years have been, we have been so blessed to have Lin-Manuel Miranda right now. I don’t know where his creative genius comes from, but I am so thankful he is sharing it with us.

The Hamiltome as a book alone is gorgeous–the pictures are stunning, and the text is formatted like an old-school pamphlet. Jeremy McCarter wrote two page chapter introductions to explain the creation process of each section of the show:  set design, LMM’s writing process, casting, workshopping, etc. Then a few songs follow, with LMM’s notes in the margins.

Those notes are definitely the best part. Some are funny, some are sad, some are just interesting. But all give us just a hint of just how fast and deep LMM’s brain works. He is no where close to the rest of us. We are not worthy.

If you are a fan, you need to pick this up. I’m telling you now, put it on your birthday list, Christmas list, Must Buy list. Do it. Click the linky below.

Don’t throw away your shot.

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Love is Love is Love is Love

I sit here, watching my Tweetdeck just roll and roll and roll. Most days it is filled with fandom and art from my super talented friends, sports commentary from whatever is in season, food and coffee and wine and beer.

But today there are only two extremes.

LOVE and HATE.

Thankfully, I follow mostly open-minded, welcoming people, so there is a heck of a lot of love on my wall today. An outpouring of grief from the LGBT community, and people already rising to fight back–not with arms but with peace–blood donations (for those who can legally give blood), calls to congressmen, vigils, monetary donations. Straight allies spreading the word and joining the fight that is not ours but we will do as much as we can for it anyway. This community has been hit so hard but still it is strong enough to love each other.

How do I know that? Because the government wants to tell us that it is radical Islam who did this. That the problem is the Muslim faith and we should hate them all. The hate on my timeline this morning isn’t from individuals. It is from the media and the politicians. And the response I have seen to that hate has been to tear it down. To hell with your hate. There are gay Muslims too, and just as much Islamaphobia as homophobia. The hate is the problem, the “-phobia”. Not whatever comes in front of it.

To take from Lin Manuel Miranda’s sonnet last night…because who can do it better than LMM:

And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love
Cannot be killed or swept aside
I sing them as a symphony

I ask you to put some love out into the world today. Whether you are gay, lesbian, trans, nonbinary, asexual, queer, or straight–however you identify–remember that love is love is love is love. Something terrible, horrible, devastating has happened. I’d love to stay unimaginable, but for some awful reason that is no longer the case. There are many things we need to do to fix this, but today, the first thing we need to do is love each other.

I love you.

One more thought. I felt the need to write this to show my support and purge some of the grief I feel for what happened. I did not want to keep quiet on this issue. However, my voice is not the voice you should be listening to, for I am simply an ally. Go and listen to the multitude of LGBTQ voices shouting and crying and mourning. They are calling out. 


If you need help today, here are some resources:

The Trevor Project:        866-488-7386
                                         http://www.thetrevorproject.org/

National Suicide Prevention Line:  800-273-8255
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat.aspx

There has been a GoFundMe set up to help the victims of the Pulse Shooting, please go here to help.

Alexander Hamilton

What’s your name, man?

Alexander Hamilton. My name is Alexander Hamilton. There’s a million things I haven’t done. Just you wait, just you wait.

Why yes, I did just sing that from memory. I *might* be a little obsessed. OK…more than a little.

GUYS GO LISTEN TO HAMILTON IMMEDIATELY I COMMAND YOU.

SON. CALL ME SON ONE MORE TIME.

Dammit. Sorry, I did it again.

As if my Hamilton obsession couldn’t get any worse, I just finished the 730 page Ron Chernow biography that Lin Manuel Miranda based his musical after. And by that, I don’t just mean he took a few facts from it, oh no. GUYS, I COULD MATCH THE RHYTHM TO THE ENTIRE BIOGRAPHY. Have you ever read a 730 page biography in rap? It makes it SO much more interesting. I wish Lin Manuel Miranda could teach us all of the history. We would understand so much more.

Hello, Mr. Next President, do you want to save the schools? This is what you need to do. Hire LMM to produce our curriculum. Post to the internet. Done. Teenagers will now be engaged. They will even create fanart.

But I’m getting away from the actual biography again. For the most part, it’s exactly the same as the George Washington one that I read several months ago. It’s very long and very dry. There is SO much research here, and he does a brilliant job. It’s a 730 page history, though, and while Hamilton is very interesting, there’s only so much you can do to make it not boring. And that is to get LMM to make a musical about it. Seriously, Chernow needs to kiss LMM’s feet for the amount of extra book sales he is getting out of this. I couldn’t find it anywhere because it was sold out.

Sorry. Sorry. The book. Right. It’s a solid biography. If you like biographies, read it. If you are interested in the founding fathers, read it. If you’ve previously read Ron Chernow’s work and liked it, read it. If you are obsessed with the musical…it’s going to be a toss up. Because I’m a book nerd and will read EVERYTHING, I say read it–but I also think there are a lot of musical nuts who may start this monster and just really not care for it at all. It’s a beast. Just know what you are getting into when you pick it up, and if you’re used to fiction and never read NonF, this may not be the book for you.

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Fulfills Bibliophilicwitch’s #BigBookChallenge

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

For months I’ve been seeing this beautiful blue starry cover across Tumblr, and a gazillion Booklrs raving about (what I thought) was a pair of philosophers falling in love. I rarely read Goodreads reviews before adding a book to my TBR–I tend to just jump in to the story, preferring to discover along the way. My library never had it available, but they finally released the audiobook to me, and I am so glad they did. I think it was almost better in that format probably!

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I quickly learned that this wasn’t about the two ancient philosophers at all, but two teenage Mexican boys living in the desert city of El Paso. I generally can only read audiobooks while doing something–chores or walking–so falling in love with this story motivated me to walk more often! Except guys, it damned near broke my heart! Do you know how hard it is to keep pace while crying? I’m sure I got some weird looks on the trail.

Ari and Dante’s friendship is completely beautiful. For those of you who haven’t heard of this book before–it isn’t just a coming of age story, it’s also a coming out story. It’s powerful, sad, happy, scary. About every emotion you can have, you will have it while reading this book. A must read this year, absolutely.

And if you like audiobooks, definitely listen to this one. The narration is extremely well done! (Update:  Lin-Manuel Miranda is the reader! I did not know this when I originally read and reviewed this!)

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