"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" --
I found the book well researched and the story flowed from the first page. The one thing I didn't like was that two thirds of the book was devoted to Eliza and Alexander. The other third of the was about the approximately 55 years she lived after his death.
This book would be a good read for those who love history or even those who are into the "Hamilton" craze.
She bore seven children. Mindful of her husband's past and her children's present, she helped found the country's first private orphanage. She helped raise money to fund the Washington Monument. She was close personal friends with Martha and George Washington. She was a noble "Roman wife" whose work directly helped found the United States of America. She loved her family and tolerated her enemies.
Eliza was not brilliant. That was Alexander's part. She had heart, though, and loved Alexander and her family deeply.
Most interesting is Mazzeo's take of the Reynolds affair. The way this tale is traditionally told is that Alexander, while Treasury Secretary, had a sexual tryst with a Maria Reynolds with Maria's husband's full knowledge in Eliza's bed. A love note supposedly corroborated the affair. James Reynolds, Maria's husband, supposedly blackmailed Alexander for money with the threat of telling Eliza.
But Eliza never divorced Alexander and defended him with passion for the rest of her life. Why? Mazzeo contends that Alexander falsified the Reynolds pamphlet to cover up for insider trading. She contends that politicians of his time and enemies of Hamilton's political party (including future presidents James Monroe and Thomas Jefferson) knew this and forced the brilliant Alexander out of politics. Mazzeo even outlines her theory in a closing Author's Note within the book.
Well-written and an interesting profile of one of our founding mothers, Eliza Hamilton tells a story not of a saint but of someone's interesting angle on life.
However, I did enjoy reading a story that I had previously been unaware of. In all honesty, before reading this book the only things I knew about Alexander Hamilton were that he was killed in a duel and his likeness appears on the $10 bill. This book brought the characters of Eliza and Alexander to life.
A good read, but I would caution those seeking a straight "biography". The author herself states "this book is not a scholarly dissertation". Maybe if it had been, it would've been better.