The #HamAlong Lets Its Ideals Blind it to Reality

NOW we have attained the kind of rap-battle controversy that I was expecting from Ron Chernow’s Hamilton.

Hamilton, pretty much full-time

The lines are drawn, the gloves are off, and A. Ham is wading into battle against prettttttty much every other Founding Father. Which means that it’s time for a new #HamAlong feature I shall call Which Founding Father Is Being the Worst This Week?

Which Founding Father Is Being the Worst This Week? I’m going to have to say Monroe. This fuckin’ guy. When some guys in the federal government got wind of Hamilton’s history of giving money to James Reynolds (they heard about it because James Reynolds was all the time telling people about it), they went round Hamilton’s house to see what was up, and Hamilton explained to them about Maria Reynolds at great length.

I know. Unprecedented. Hamilton talking a lot. Try to control your shock.

Two of the guys were horribly embarrassed by all this and were totally like “uh, yeah, bro, that’s your business, we’ll just — sorry about charging you with speculation, this is super awkward, we’ll be on our way then.” Monroe, by contrast, promised not to tell another soul what he saw, and then ran away and IMMEDIATELY TATTLED to Thomas Jefferson.

Which…okay, as I’m typing this, I have to admit that if I found out some salacious gossip about the lady at my old job who always stole the cream cheese,1 I would have a very hard time not going straight to Whiskey Jenny with this news. However, if I gave my word to the cream cheese-stealing lady and I promised not to tell, I would not tell. You still have to keep your promises even when they have been made to people who steal communal cream cheese and keep it all for themselves. So Monroe is still the worst, after all.

Also not the best, however? Thomas Jefferson. This is a tricky time for foreign relations, and Thomas Jefferson does not rise to the occasion of our new nation as much as maybe one might have hoped. As you will remember from your history classes (slash, from “Cabinet Battle #2”), France and England were not at this time the best of pals, and America had to articulate a foreign policy to address that hostility, as well as the increasingly bloody French Revolution. Jefferson was very


Which nobody who’s ever seen that one part of Casablanca could be completely out of sympathy with, as a position. But it seems to me that Jefferson feared that France would get forgotten and abandoned if Hamilton were left to his own devices, and this fear made him keep on siding with France even when they were being super terrible and beheading people bloodily all over the town square. “Thus always to tyrants!” said Jefferson, probably, when he heard about Louis XVI being executed, and that, boys and girls, is why you should learn to live with cognitive dissonance. So that you don’t find yourself Secretary of State trying to explain why widespread guillotine massacres are a-okay under some circumstances.

Various other things happened, including Ron Chernow blaming Alexander Hamilton for Eliza having a miscarriage. Bro, remember that time you blamed Alexander’s infidelity on Eliza being pregnant? And we were all like


about it? Well, this is another of those times. Lots of pregnancies miscarry. Especially in olden days. Don’t be weird.

Altogether, A LOT happened in this section of the HamAlong. By the end of it, Hamilton has retired his position in the cabinet to spend more time with his family. What I am curious to know is, can he stick to this resolution? And if yes, is Retired Hamilton like one of those very, very, very energetic dogs where you have to tire out their brains or else they’ll chew up your sofa while you’re away at work? (Seems likely.)

Hamilton Burn Ward: Like last week, someone tries to insult Hamilton but kinda ends up complimenting him. A Republican foe making a joke about Hamilton’s favorable view of the monarchy suggested that Hamilton be made king, since the country would then never want for heirs. Get it? Get it?

He meant cause Hamilton enjoyed sex a lot.

As always, thanks to the wonderful Alice for hosting!


What Is Veiling?, Sahar Amer

I try, in general, to cast a critical eye upon ideas and information and opinions, and sometimes I am more successful at this and other times less successful. For genres of things where Societal Bullshit has often been at play in the past, I try to be extra skeptical about that thing. As a totally inconsequential example, I know that the Bachelor manipulates my views of all the women through editing; and I maintain a particular skepticism of the edits that people of color receive. (The, like, three that have ever been on that show.)

Similarly, I have decided upon a policy of increased skepticism in all future cases where policymakers and opinion-havers feel that it would be Best if women would just wear different clothes. I do not exclude from consideration the possibility that such an argument might have merit. But in general, history has taught me to be suspicious of people attempting to regulate ladies’ clothing. That suspicion is now my official policy.

What Is Veiling

Sahar Amer’s What Is Veiling? looks at the history and practice of veiling among Muslim women. The book’s primary message is that Muslim women veil differently and for different reasons in different places. If that seems obvious, well, it is. But Western rhetoric about Muslim women who veil tends to flatten out all those differences, and Amer’s goal is to truly educate the reader about the reasons women veil and think about veiling across the world.

One area that Amer highlights that I think would make a useful addition to our national discourse is the way historical precedent plays into all this. European nations who wanted to conquer other nations were allllll the tiiiiime meebling “oh but the women we must save them.” And then they came in and decided everything for everyone, generally in order to attain the most amount of economic gain.

What Is Veiling?
It was.

So no huge surprise that critics of colonialism are suspicious of Western nations making the same claim again; particularly when — as is so often the case — they discount or ignore the voices of Muslim women who have chosen to veil and are ready to fight for their right to continue doing so.

[Muslim feminist] Amina Wadud writ[es] that, “the hijab of coercion and the hijab of choice look the same. The hijab of oppression and the hijab of liberation look the same. The hijab of deception and the hijab of integrity look the same. You can no more tell the extent of a Muslim woman’s sense of personal bodily integrity or piety from 45 inches of cloth than you can spot a fly on the wall at two thousand feet.”

Anyway, it’s an excellent and careful book, and it made me want to check out more in this series from UNC Press. If you have questions about regional differences in veiling, or scriptural and cultural bases for it, or where it’s becoming more and less common and why, Sahar Amer has you covered. Recommended!

Jessica Jones, Episode 10: AKA 1000 Cuts

In the cage room that is now a super-gross murder scene, AKA 1000 Cuts picks up right where AKA Sin Bin left off. Kilgrave compels Jeri to drive him to medical care, while Jessica rallies her remaining allies: Trish, Clemons, and a still-compelled Albert. Clemons takes over like a boss, ordering Trish not to call an ambulance until he can get some guys he trusts on the scene.1 Meanwhile, Jessica will go in pursuit of Kilgrave, and Trish will take Albert to a hotel where they can start working on a vaccine: Kilgrave’s power, Albert reveals, is a virus, and one to which Jessica’s blood may hold a cure.2

Left to his own devices, Clemons putters about the crime scene long enough to give Simpson time to show up, murder him, and set the whole crime scene on fire.

AKA 1000 Cuts

Bro, like — even if your plan is to murder Kilgrave, are you sure you don’t want this exculpatory evidence that provides proof of Kilgrave’s evil powers that nobody believes in? And also, even if Plan A is murder Kilgrave, is it that terrible an idea to have Plan B (vaccine) and Plan C (trial) underway as failsafes?

The Simpson plotline actually frustrates the hell out of me. Theoretically I could have been way into a story about how “Nice Guy” Simpson becomes a dangerous enemy under the influence of some misguided idea of What Masculinity Should Look Like (i.e., saving the day and getting the bad guy). But the way it plays out is kind of troubling. The primary ideological disagreement between Simpson and Jessica (both of whom are past victims of Kilgrave) is whether or not to let Kilgrave live.3 And as you know if you’ve watched the season all the way through, Jessica does eventually come around to Simpson’s way of thinking. So like — why was Simpson being so vilified for wanting to do the exact thing Jessica ends up doing?

The answer is supposed to be, I think, that he doesn’t listen to what Jessica wants. Of course, she doesn’t listen to what he wants, either, or to what Hope wants, or what any of the other Kilgrave survivors want. It’s odd! For a show that’s superb on the gaslighting of and violence against women (of which more in a minute), it weirdly gaslights Simpson (though not Hope, who wants the same thing Simpson does), then forestalls any potential argument in his favor by turning him into a murdering, unequivocal villain.

AKA 1000 Cuts
RIP, dude. It didn’t really make the world’s most-ever plot sense for you to be killed, yet here we are.

Meanwhile, in the grimmest of team-ups, a wounded Kilgrave forces Jeri to take him to a doctor she trusts: Her soon-to-be-ex-wife, Wendy.4 A stray command from Kilgrave accidentally makes Jeri reveal that she helped Hope abort Kilgrave’s child and kept the remains. On his way out the door, a furious Kilgrave orders Wendy to perform “death by a thousand cuts” on Jeri. Pam and Jessica show up in the very nick of time, and Pam — who continues to deserve better — knocks Wendy out with a heavy piece of bric-a-brac. Wendy hits her head on the corner of a glass table, and then all the lesbians are either dead or murderers. SHE SAID WITH A HEAVY SIGH.

On the other hand, it sets up an interesting parallel between Kilgrave and Jeri. As Pam realizes, with increasing horror, exactly what Jeri did, Jeri tries to replace the real story with a different one, a narrative more favorable to herself. “I didn’t do anything,” she says, in a scene chillingly reminiscent of Kilgrave’s insistence that Jessica was at fault in Reva’s death. “You chose to pick up that thing and crush her skull.”

AKA 1000 Cuts

There follows one of the best scenes in the series — predictably, between Kilgrave and Jessica. Having arrived at Jessica’s apartment with his demands (she gives up Albert in exchange for Kilgrave arranging Hope’s release), Kilgrave insists that she chose to stay with him. For eighteen seconds, he says.5 For eighteen seconds, on a rooftop, he was not controlling Jessica, and she still stayed with him.

But here’s what Jessica remembers: She was free, so briefly, from Kilgrave’s power, and for eighteen seconds she tried to shake free of the hold he had on her mind, to convince herself to jump off the rooftop. Just as she was making her decision, though, Kilgrave called her back. And then he came within a hair’s breadth of forcing her to cut off her own ears as a punishment for not listening to him right away.

I love this show for the way it takes on gaslighting. Women get this always. Didn’t you really want it though? Shouldn’t you have been walking in a safer area? Was it as big a deal as you’re making it? Aren’t you bringing it on yourself anyway? Kilgrave tries all of these tactics on Jessica, and neither she nor the show gives him an inch on it.

AKA 1000 Cuts

Through a series of events too stupid to rehearse here6, Kilgrave gains access to the entire Kilgrave support group and uses them as failsafes in the event that Jessica tries to kill him. He offers her a trade: Hope for Albert. Hope begs Jessica to kill Kilgrave7, and when Kilgrave explains that nah, Jessica will never kill him while she has a chance of saving Hope, Hope stabs herself in the throat with a piece of glass. She bleeds out in Jessica’s arms.

AKA 1000 Cuts
Downer episode, bro.

Jessica breaks things: The glass in Wendy’s door, to break in? I think. That could have been Pam actually. The pipe fixture in the restaurant where Kilgrave’s holding the support group, to save them all from death by hanging.

  1. Lester. Goddamn. Holt.
  2. I guess Albert just has vaccine-making supplies on hand wherever he goes? Like all scientists do?
  3. Hope thinks not, BY THE WAY.
  4. Again: Do all doctors keep medical bags in their house? To do stitches on private citizens? I am pretty sure scientists don’t actually keep vaccine supplies lying around, but the doctor-medical-bag thing could be truth in television. Anyone?
  5. The title of this episode should have been “18 Seconds,” incidentally.
  6. Malcolm blurts, is the short version

The #HamAlong’s Gotta Keep the American Promise

So. Much. Finance. Talk. I trust that the #HamAlong will experience a sharp upward turn in action in the subsequent chapters, and can only conclude that the schedule for this week allotted a comparatively lowish number of pages to make up for how heavily taxy this section is.

Me for (tbh) large swathes of this section

One thing I learned that tied into knowledge I already possessed was that Britain had, at this time, something like a monopoly on textile production. A. Ham wanted to diversify American business, rather than continuing to depend on only agriculture, so he spent a lot of time learning about textiles and how Americans could produce them in factories. Britain, meanwhile, would not let their cleverest engineers even leave the country, lest they betray English textile secrets to the rest of the world. Crazy, eh? And particularly strange to think about given how, a few years on, India’s going to make the bottom fall out of the British textile industry anyway.

In his free time, when he’s not writing financial systems into existence, A. Ham is, I am sorry to say, becoming involved with Maria Reynolds. It is self-destructive AF, and knowing as I do the ultimate outcome, I wish and wish that he would change his mind and not fuck that lady.


Oh but then what. The chapter started off all sex-scandally and guess what came next. Guess for a sec.


And not even, you know, like Hamilton’s barely even feuding with Jefferson and Madison yet. Jefferson does come home from France, and Chernow makes the excellent point that whereas we think of Jefferson as a revered Founding Father, Hamilton only knew about him what he had heard from other people. Which was, like, that he owned slaves and wasn’t a great commander and had asked Angelica to come back to Monticello with him to check out all his slaves. So it is no big surprise that Hamilton was all:


Since I paid less attention to this section than I have to most of the sections (and less than I will pay to future sections! I swear this is the most amount inattentive I will ever be throughout this HamAlong!), I will just leave you with this John Adams burn:

John Adams [told] Jefferson that [Hamilton] was an “insolent coxcomb who rarely dined in good company where there was good wine without getting silly and vaporing about his administration, like a young girl about her brilliants and trinkets.”

Y’all, that not only does not sound insolent or coxcomby, it sounds outright delightful. Like Hamilton’s true love for America was barely being kept under wraps at all times, and then you get a glass of wine into him and he can’t shut up about it. ADORABLE.

Reading the End Bookcast, Ep.54: Spring Book Preview and The Hatening (Part 1)

The Hatening commenceth! Spoilers: Whiskey Jenny did an incredible job choosing a book that I would, and did, hate. You can listen to the podcast in the embedded player below or download the file directly here to take with you on the go.

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Books discussed (in order of appearance)

Winter Books!

Two Years, Eight Months, and Twenty-Eight Nights, Salman Rushdie
Winter, Marissa Meyer
The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Patrick Ness
illustrated Harry Potter!
City on Fire, Garth Risk Hallberg
The Japanese Lover, Isabel Allende
Ripper, Isabel Allende
Under the Udala Trees, Chinelo Okparanta
Thirteen Ways of Looking, Colum McCann
Carry On, Rainbow Rowell
Career of Evil, Robert Galbraith

Forthcoming Books We’re Excited About

Marriage Material, Sathnam Sanghera (Europa, February)
What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, Helen Oyeyemi (Riverhead, March)
The Association of Small Bombs, Karan Mahajan (Viking, March)
The Passenger, Lisa Lutz (Simon & Schuster, March)
Hex, Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor, April)
The Only Rule Is It Has to Work, Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller (Henry Holt, May)
The Raven King, Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic, April)
Ear to the Ground, David Ulin and Paul Kolsby (Unnamed Press, April)

The Hatening, Part 1

Leaving the Atocha Station, Ben Lerner

Road Books about Ladies

Wild, Cheryl Strayed
The Dead Ladies Project, Jessa Crispin (and this is the New York Times article in question)
Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel
Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Holly Black (not that much road tripping in this really)

The Hatening, Part 2

Planetfall, Emma Newman

Get at me on Twitter, email the podcast, and friend me (Gin Jenny) and Whiskey Jenny on Goodreads. Or if you wish, you can find us on iTunes (and if you enjoy the podcast, give us a good rating! We appreciate it very very much).

Producer: Captain Hammer
Photo credit: The Illustrious Annalee
Song is by Jeff MacDougall

Jessica Jones, Episode 9: AKA Sin Bin

After the mesmerizing two-hander episode from last week, AKA Sin Bin is a bit of a letdown. It’s a perfectly serviceable piece of television in that it gets Jessica and Kilgrave from point A (he is captured) to point B (he is freed) without too much of the lagging and lying around that plague this show.

(Jessica Jones would have benefited by being ten episodes, rather than thirteen. Discuss.)

Compared to last week, which was nothing but beautiful character notes for Jessica and Kilgrave, while also advancing the plot in wonderful and surprising ways, AKA Sin Bin sets character-building to one side and focuses solely on the plot. Jessica has Kilgrave now, and she hopes to beat a confession out of him, for the camera. Of course this backfires, because Jessica — as we’ve seen before — doesn’t have it in her to play the long game, and Kilgrave plays nothing but.

AKA Sin Bin

He knows that he has nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by revealing the truth to Jeri or the camera, and he behaves accordingly. And in any case, as Jeri explains icily to Jessica, the confession won’t be any use if it occurs under duress; it has to be witnessed by an officer of the law.

This sounds like a case for: LESTER HOLT.

AKA Sin Bin
ilu Lester Holt

Lester Holt (okay okay his real name is Detective Clemons) is disinclined to acquiesce to Jessica’s request. He is two years away from retirement with his full pension, and he doesn’t have time to be chasing after ghosts.1 But Jessica gets him to come to the Cage Warehouse and handcuffs him to a wall so he can watch Kilgrave reacting to the other half of Jessica’s plan, which is:

HIS PARENTS. Using clues from the video of Kilgrave’s tragic childhood, Jessica’s able to track down his parents. As extraordinary luck would have it, they are currently in New York. His mother has been attending Malcolm’s survivors’ group anonymously, and Jessica recognizes her from her picture. This is exceptionally convenient as plot points go, but since I don’t want this to be dragged out any more than it needs to be, let’s say it’s fine.

The Official Plan is to let Kilgrave’s parents in to talk to him, have his mother betray him by stabbing him suddenly, and then watch as he mind-controls them for the camera. But oh no! When Jessica punches the electrocute-everyone button to stop Kilgrave’s mother from stabbing herself to death with her Knife o’ Betrayal, nothing happens!


AKA Sin Bin

Okay, here is my problem with this. My problem is not that it was foolish of Jessica to leave the Neutral Evil Jeri alone with Kilgrave.2 It’s not even that I don’t believe Jeri would be stupid enough to trust Kilgrave.3 It’s that I find it absolutely impossible to believe that Jeri couldn’t think of any other way out of the Wendy situation.

The premise of Wendy that we are asked to buy into is that she is so extremely good and virtuous that Jeri has no way of blackmailing her out of the proposed divorce settlement.4 And we are asked, further, to believe that Jeri cannot think of any single alternative method of stopping Wendy from doing exactly what she wants.

Y’all, before I continue, I want you to understand that the following gif is an accurate depiction of the inside of my brain.

I like following rules (Agents of Shield)

Jeri, by contrast, is supposedly the sharkiest lawyer in town. And yet: Threaten Wendy’s friends (you know who they are). Threaten her pet projects you’ve been funding (she cares about those). Threaten her relatives (they can’t all be living blameless lives). See how easy this is? Are you seriously telling me that Jeri Hogarth was able to think of zero of these ideas? There aren’t elements of Wendy’s life that she’s unwilling to live without that Jeri can hold over her head? BULLSHIT.

Anyway, whatever. Because of Jeri’s signal failure of imagination, Kilgrave is able to murder his mother and escape from his cage. Jessica grabs him to stop him from leaving; he orders her to let go; and she doesn’t. This triggers a flashback to when Kilgrave ordered her to come back to him after she killed Reva, and she didn’t do it, and it’s like, a big revelation moment.

Except, I mean — didn’t we already know this? We have seen that flashback a few times now. Is Jessica only just now realizing that she has some measure of immunity to Kilgrave’s powers of persuasion? BECAUSE WE ALL ALREADY KNEW THAT.

All in all, a frustrating episode, which brings to a head a number of the plot problems this show has been struggling with along, while doing very little of the character and theme work that I enjoy.

Oh, and Simpson heals mysterious quickly from his bomb-induced injuries, with the help of a mysterious doctor and some mysterious pills. Snore.

Jessica breaks things: NOTHING. Jessica breaks NOTHING in this episode, if you can imagine such a world. By contrast:

Trish breaks things: The glass cell where Kilgrave is being kept, in an attempt to stop Kilgrave. This does not work. It opposite of stops him. Good try, though, Trish. Your heart was in the right place.

Lester Holt breaks things: His goddamn wrist, trying to get out of his handcuffs to obey Kilgrave’s command to come with him. Oh Lester Holt. Oh honey. Stay with us, baby. We love you, stay with us, stay aliiiiiiiiiiiiiive.

  1. Hands up everyone who heard this line and immediately knew Lester Holt was going to die.
  2. It was, but Jessica has a lot on her plate right now, and I’m not surprised she didn’t think of that.
  3. I can maybe buy that she would, although it’s a stretch.
  4. Never mind that there’s nothing stopping Wendy from releasing the damning emails after she takes the divorce settlement — a consideration absolutely nobody ever mentions. Ugh I can’t with this plotline.

I Read a Book about the Comoros and Didn’t Tell You: A Links Round-Up

Happy Friday, friends! I am trying to get back into the regular swing of blogging now that it is the new year, but some of these links are slightly old. Oh well! Maybe you haven’t seen them yet! In which case, lucky you!

What to do if you are white and straight and cis and male and not all the stories are about you anymore (Star Wars spoilers included herein).

“More as heroines than damsels”: How Disney gave their Princess dolls business to Hasbro.

Nichole Chung on microaggressions and the certainty that you are the only person who can make sure everyone at the table keeps having a nice time.

New York Magazine has been one of my favorite places for pop culture writing since time immemorial, but my God they have been crushing it in 2016. This piece by Sulagna Misra about how “internet boyfriends” get created is so m.f. good.

Mismatched communication styles and Hanlon’s Razor (I don’t necessarily agree with everything in this article, but I think it’s at least interesting).

Jenny, are you tired yet of reading about people escaping from cults? NO NEVER.

A detailed look at the publication process, and how it might be shortened for George R. R. Martin’s doorstopper The Winds of Winter.

Here’s something I just found out about this instant because the book I read about the Comoros was thirty years old because nobody writes about the Comoros: The United Arab Emirates bought a whole bunch of Comoran citizenships to bestow upon members of a stateless ethnic group living within their borders. Because this world makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

The Telegraph has helpfully compiled an extensive article about how to do heists, but also, why you shouldn’t bother.

I ride hard for Paterson Joseph, as you’ll know if you were around me when David Tennant announced his departure from Doctor Who. I still think he’d be an amazing Doctor, NOT THAT Steven Moffat would ever remotely consider hiring him for that gig cause he’s a jerk. Anyway, Joseph is now doing a one-man show about Ignatius Sancho that sounds awesome. Way to goddamn go, Paterson Joseph.

#HamAlong Always Says What It Believes

Okay, it’s possible that the first chapters of Alexander Hamilton misled me about how nonstop thrilling Alexander Hamilton’s life was going to be. #HamAlong has now reached the stage at which Chernow dedicates almost thirty pages to describing each and every number of The Federalist Papers.


Yo, I already knew the important thing, which is that HAMILTON WROTE! THE OTHER FIFTY-ONE! I do not need an entire chapter on this.

In this section, Hamilton helps make a new Constitution, convinces George Washington to become President, and accepts a position as Treasury Secretary. Apparently he wasn’t even Washington’s first choice! Washington didn’t know that Hamilton was all up in the financial system in his spare time. It kind of makes sense that even Hamilton’s closest political ally does not have time to keep up with all the shit Hamilton knows and does. Like that is how energetic Hamilton is. Normal people not only can’t do that much stuff, they can’t even see that much stuff being done cause Hamilton moves too fast for the human eye to follow.

It is also the season of Hamilton’s abolitionism. Now, as you might expect, most of his time in this section of #HamAlong is occupied in talking for six hours (the convention is listless) and writing THE OTHER FIFTY-ONE, but then he does legitimately join an abolition society and come up with ideas for making abolition happen. The whole thing’s sort of weird because it’s like, an abolition society? Comprising, presumably, a bunch of abolitionists? Yet:

Hamilton’s committee presented its proposals on what members [of the abolition society] should do with their slaves.


This only goes on for a little bit, because nobody agrees to Hamilton’s plan of freeing litrally all their slaves in seven years’ time. Why not, early American abolitionists? That is a nice biblical number of years in which to decide that “It’s not cool to own other people” is a rule that applies to everyone, not just plantation-owners.

ALSO. I know some people in this readalong are mad at Chernow because he’s too into Hamilton and gives him a pass on everything. Yo, that is just biographies, friends; and also, Hamilton was pretty rad. My beef with Ron Chernow, I will tell you it right now, is that he called my girl Peggy “very beautiful but vain and supercilious,” but then produced no evidence in support of his claim. Here are the two Peggy anecdotes he has told so far:

Then the women remembered that Mrs. Schuyler’s infant daughter, Catherine, had been left in a cradle by the front door. Since both Eliza and Angelica were pregnant, sister Peggy crept downstairs to retrieve the endangered child. The leader of the raiding party barred her way with a musket.

“Wench, wench! Where is your master?” he demanded.

“Gone to alarm the town,” the coolheaded Peggy said.

The intruder, fearing that Schuyler would return with troops, fled in alarm. Legend maintains that one Indian hurled a tomahawk at Peggy’s head as she trotted up the stairs with the baby in her arms; to this day the mahogany banister bears what are thought to be scars from the blade.


At one ball, Angelica dropped a garter that was swept gallantly off the floor by Hamilton. Angelica, who had a sly wit, teased him that he wasn’t a Knight of the Garter. Angelica’s sarcastic sister, Peggy, then remarked, “He would be a Knight of the Bedchamber, if he could.” This may all have been harmless banter, but such tales fed material to the local gossips.

I believe what you are saying, Mr. Chernow, is that Peggy is a hilarious baller. Adjust early remarks accordingly.


Hamilton Sweetness Watch: Fisher Ames (a Federalist ally) described him as “so entirely the friend of his friends . . . that his power over their affections was entire and lasted through his life.” Judge James Kent said he “was blessed with a very amiable, generous, tender, and charitable disposition.” And this is not about him being sweet, it’s just funny: An early biographer of Aaron Burr described a New York Senate race thus: “The Clintons had power, the Livingstons had numbers, and the Schuylers had Hamilton.

Thanks as always to Alice for hosting! I love the current location of my bookmark, which now no longer says “I am a dilettante” but instead “I am a serious scholar of biographical information.” And it would never have happened without the HamAlong!

The Triumphal Return of Book Blogger Appreciation Week

Old-timer book bloggers may remember the days when the fabulous Amy ran an annual event called Book Blogger Appreciation Week. It had everything: discovering new-to-you bloggers, Twitter squeeing, and an endless supply of internet hugs aimed at the bloggers you already know and love.

I have teamed up with the incomparable Andi (of Estella’s Revenge), Heather (of Capricious Reader), and Ana (of Things Mean a Lot) to BRING BACK this glorious occasion. Sign-ups go live today! If you’re interested in, you know, rapturously embracing other bloggers (virtually), head over to the Estella Society and do so today!

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

If you’re not familiar with Book Blogger Appreciation Week, it’s basically just a group hug of a blogging event, with some bonus discovering of new blogs thrown in for good measure. We’ll be interviewing bloggers, talking about how we stay in touch with the blogging community, and lots of other good stuff. Don’t miss out! Sign up today!

Prague is the principal city of Bohemia, and other facts learned from #HamAlong

Are you still HamAlonging with us, ducklings? If you missed last week, there’s still plenty of time to catch up! The full schedule is posted at Alice’s blog, and a very nice schedule it is too! This week, Hamilton educates himself, goes into battle, and seeks a wife.

While some people such as you or me might find running an army (in an administrative role, but I mean — that’s where all the work’s at anyway, right?) to be a sufficient amount to take on at one time, Hamilton spends his evenings reading up on all the areas of knowledge he feels himself lacking in. It legitimately could not be more adorable:

He also stocked his mind with basic information about the world: “The continent of Europe is 2600 miles long and 2800 miles broad”; “Prague is the principal city of Bohemia, the principal part of the commerce of which is carried on by the Jews.”


We also get to the Battle of Monmouth, which you may remember from the musical Hamilton as the one at which Charles Lee shits the bed. In real life, Washington sent Hamilton to see how Charles Lee was getting on in battle, and Hamilton arrived to find Lee’s troops in full retreat. This leads to my favorite thing that Hamilton has done so far, and frankly I will be surprised if anything in the rest of this book can top it.

Hamilton rode up to Lee and shouted, “I will stay here with you, my dear general, and die with you! Let us all die rather than retreat!”

Ahahahaha, Alexander Hamilton is a noble delight. I can just picture Charles Lee holding the bridge of his nose and trying to figure out how to get out of this.

Then Hamilton gets some shore leave or whatever, and guess who enters the picture!


Angelica is already married by the time Hamilton shows up, or — Ron Chernow suggests — Hamilton might have married her instead. But he seems very into Eliza, and writes her lots of letters to explain how poor and wretched he expects to be once they are married, given that good fortune is as transitory and unconstant as the emotions of the human heart.


Hamilton and Washington have a big fight, let’s gloss over that cause it bums me out, and nearly a year after Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown, John Laurens is shot dead while trying to ambush some British expeditionaries in Charleston.

Pour one out for John Laurens.

Sob sob. It is extra sad because Laurens seems to have been the absolute sweetest dear, and it would have been interesting to see what role (if any) he’d have played in the new nation. And just, like, why can’t Hamilton have his friends around, you know? Especially someone like Laurens, who offered to take his inheritance from his (wealthy, slave-owning) father “in the form of a black battalion, freed and equipped to defend South Carolina.” That is awesome, Laurens.

Hamilton and abolitionism: Sarah made the excellent point last week that Chernow’s description of Hamilton as a fierce abolitionist is a relatively recent opinion among scholars. We are consequently to be on high alert to see if Hamilton really was a fierce abolitionist, or if he was just, like, less slave-own-y than the rest of the Founding Fathers. There will be no grading on a curve. In this section, Hamilton says this:

The contempt we have been taught to entertain for the blacks makes us fancy many things that are founded neither in reason nor experience; and an unwillingness to part with property of so valuable a kind will furnish a thousand arguments to show the impracticability or pernicious tendency of a scheme which requires such a sacrifice.

It’s not exactly wholesale abolitionism (he’s arguing to free slaves who will then agree to fight in the Continental Army), but it’s a hell of a truth bomb anyway.

ALSO. I am going to start keeping count of the people who describe Hamilton as “sweet,” because I find it charming that so many people thought he was. Hamilton Sweetness Watch, chapters 6-9: The duc de La Rochefoucauld-Liancourt. Eliza not exactly but she does list among his virtues “the excellence of his heart.” Aww.