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In retelling the story of the radical Alexander Hamilton, Parenti rewrites the history of early America and the global economy. For much of the twentieth century, Hamilton—sometimes seen as the bad boy of the founding fathers or portrayed as the patron saint of bankers—was out of fashion. In contrast his rival Thomas Jefferson, the patrician democrat and slave owner who feared government overreach, was claimed by all. But more recently, Hamilton has become a subject of serious interest again.
He was a contradictory mix: a tough soldier, austere workaholic, exacting bureaucrat, sexual libertine, glory-obsessed romantic with suicidal tendencies—and pioneer of industrialisation. As Parenti argues, we have yet to fully appreciate Hamilton as the primary architect of American capitalism and the developmental state. In exploring his life and work, Parenti rediscovers this gadfly as a pathbreaking political thinker and institution builder. In this vivid portrait, Hamilton emerges as a singularly important historical figure: a thinker and politico who laid the foundation for America’s ascent to global supremacy and mass industrialisation—for better or worse.