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 theatre, 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 theatre 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.
“America, you great unfinished symphony, you sent for me. You let me make a difference. A place where even orphan immigrants can leave their fingerprints and rise up.” – Hamilton, “The World Was Wide Enough”
“Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now…” – The Schuyler Sisters, “The Schuyler Sisters”
As someone who holds conversations purely in Hamilton gifs, can rap ‘Guns and Ships’ somewhat convincingly, listens to the music non-stop and can seamlessly work Hamilton references into everyday life, owning this gorgeous book was a necessity. Similar to everyone who’s living outside of the U.S. and hasn’t had the chance to see the musical yet (or would have to sell their soul in order to buy a $1,700 ticket to see it live), I’ve been desperate for everything Hamilton-related in an attempt to quench my thirst for this musical about a Founding Father which has swept across the globe. Hamilton isn’t just a musical about a Founding Father of America: it’s about love and loss, fighting for what you believe in and never giving up, and making a life for yourself when the world around you is crumbling. Hamilton isn’t just a musical I like. It’s become entrenched in my life and I feel like I’m a better person because of the things it’s taught me. Like inspiring me to write 51 English essays when I’d much rather be reading.
So as I’m yet to be in the room where it happens, this beautiful book is the closest thing I’ve got. And let me tell you this: it’s phenomenal. Complete with short essays from Lin and other members of the cast or people of importance, annotations of the lyrics for each song and stunning photographs, this book is really something you have to get your hands on. My favourite thing about it is definitely the annotations of the lyrics as I got to understand Lin-Manuel Miranda’s word choice and how it ties into history or how it references another event, and I really got to know Hamilton on a deeper level because of these little additions. Now when I listen to Hamilton I fully understand these lyrical choices and hear all the nuances and the illusions to other parts of history rather than just enjoying the music on somewhat of a superficial level.
The essays were also incredibly insightful and gave us a deeper understanding of the immense amount of work that when into creating Hamilton and what led up to this musical becoming possibly the most talked-about show of this year (and undoubtably one that will be talked about and enjoyed for many years to come). I didn’t know anything about the main creator of this musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda, before reading Hamilton: The Revolution but now it’s safe to say that I’m as much a fan of him as a person as I am of his musical. It was fascinating to read about his own childhood and the events that shaped his writing of this musical and how some lines were particularly autobiographical for him. After all, so many aspects of Hamilton apply to our own lives and everyone can connect with a part of Hamilton himself, whether that be his determination, his refusal to stay silent, or even the recognition of his mistakes. We have a piece of Hamilton within us all.
The physical book itself was incredibly beautiful. It’s around the size of a coffee-table book and has a thick hard cover which I may have caressed repeatedly upon receiving it, but the pages themselves are the best part of this book and is just something that can’t be given justice to in photographs. The pages are made of incredibly high-quality textured subtle cream paper which make the reading experience even more enjoyable. Not only does the textured paper make the photographs look absolutely exquisite, the pages are also deckled, slightly ripped and aged to contribute to the overall historical aesthetic of the book. In combination with the delightful little essays, the annotations of lyrics from each song and an unprecedented insight into Lin-Manuel Miranda’s life, Hamilton: The Revolution is truly a remarkable book that is a must-have for every Hamilton fan.
“When you’re gone who remembers your name? Who keeps your flame? Who tells your story?” – Burr, “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”
Are you a fan of Hamilton? Have you had the chance to get this gorgeous book yet? What’s your favourite song from Hamilton? Have you learnt much about American history? Do you want to, or have you already, seen the actual musical? Let’s fangirl over Hamilton together!
Thanks to Hachette Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!