Book Review: Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider by Jean Fritz

History was never my strongest subject. Much to my American History teacher spouse’s chagrin, I know next to nothing about an awful lot of people and events. It just doesn’t stick. But I do know that to learn something new, the best place to go is a children’s book. So, I was excited to see that Jean Fritz had a new biography coming out about Alexander Hamilton. I knew so little about Hamilton! I knew he was on the $10 bill, of course, and that he had, um, something to do with banking, and, well, I knew about Aaron Burr. So, thank you to Jean Fritz for pulling Hamilton out of obscurity for at least one reader!

Alexander Hamilton: The OutsiderAlexander Hamilton: The Outsider by Jean Fritz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book Source: Checked out from my public library

Noted autor Jean Fritz turns her keen eye for historical detail to the life of Alexander Hamilton. From his early years in the West Indies to that fateful day in Weehawken, NJ, Fritz puts Hamilton’s story center stage while also setting it in the context of the birth of the United States. The tone of the narrative is conversational and should appeal to middle grade readers. Historical images are reproduced throughout the book; while lovely and certainly helpful in setting the mood and tone in certain passages, the lack of captions may leave some readers a bit puzzled. The image credits are squeezed into a text-dense single page in the back matter. The back matter also includes several notes on particular points, but there is no indication in the text itself that the notes exist. (This is entirely reasonable, since children’s books do not generally use footnotes, but it is a little odd to reach the end and discover the notes.) The included bibliography indicates her research sources and points to further reading. An impeccably researched, fresh look at a figure who frequently fades into the background for kids studying American history.

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