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Alexander Hamilton: The Making of America
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Alexander Hamilton: The Making of America is a sweeping, informative, yet digestible introduction to the life and times of one of the most influential figures in the story of the early United States. The biography serves as an excellent supplement for middle schoolers learning about American history and government or for anyone who fell in love with Hamilton on Broadway (or just the cast album) and wants a more straightforward presentation of the material. Nicely illustrated with black-and-white images of etchings, portraits, paintings, and historical documents.
What's the story?
ALEXANDER HAMILTON: THE MAKING OF AMERICA is a brief but surprisingly in-depth biography for middle-grade readers by author Teri Kanefield. It traces Hamilton's journey from being a humble West Indian raised without a father to being General Washington's aide-de camp and trusted advisor, to his successes and failures in the sphere of politics and the drafting of the Constitution and the Federalist Papers, to his foundational role in the creation of the United States Treasury and the first national bank. Kanefield highlights the once-polarizing figure's enduring legacy and impressive foresight into the trajectory of American history. Self-conscious of his humble origins, fiercely opposed by jealous rivals, and intellectually superior to all challengers, Hamilton's tragically brief but remarkable life and career are the embodiment of the American dream as envisioned by the Founding Fathers, the esteemed pantheon of which he is certainly a member.
Is it any good?
Informative and exciting, this dynamic story flies by in a flash, much like the titular hero. The writing in Alexander Hamilton: The Making of America is uniformly strong, peppered with solid sections of historical context, suitable introductions to basic political theories, and bits and pieces of quotes from primary sources. While the biography seems well-researched and provides citations in the endnotes, it would be nice if writers of history for younger readers weren't so shy about showing the work that went into reconstructing the record. Seeing the origins and details of where historical conclusions are drawn from is what makes the evidence reliable and relatable. That being said, the book dovetails nicely with the way American history is taught in elementary and middle school, and Alexander Hamilton is one of the most important actors in that drama.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the American history laid out in Alexander Hamilton: The Making of America. How can understanding more about how and why our government was founded and developed the way it did teach us about the present? Do you see any parallels between Hamilton's time and today?
Why is it important to learn history?
Why do you think Hamilton the musical has become such a smash hit? How do you feel about popular entertainment that can also educate?
Themes & Topics
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