Friday, September 23, 2016

Review: Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda & Jeremy McCarter

Hamilton: The Revolution

Series: Standalone
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age Group: Adults
Source: Purchased
Published - April 2016
Hardcover - 288pgs

Rating -5/5

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 theater, 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 theater 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.

This was a fascinating look at the way Hamilton came to the stage and the people who helped make this musical the phenomenon it is. It is beautiful physically. The book was light and well made. I loved the deckled edges and look of the book as much as I loved what was inside of it.

It is filled to the brim with amazing facts about Hamilton as well as stories that will make you laugh an ugly cry. I was surprised how emotional this book was and I cried several times. Learning about the people behind this show can be heart wrenching. Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius, which I appreciate even more after reading this book, but he worked with other incredible people to make this possible. The stories are told so beautifully. When I thought I couldn't love this show any more, I picked this book up and it increased my love ten-fold.

There are also the lyrics. Anyone who has listened to Hamilton knows, there are some lyrics you need to read. What exactly is that phrase in the middle of Guns and Ships? What are Hamilton's lines behind Samuel during Farmer Refuted?   You can look it all up and have it on hand with this book. I loved it.

The lyrics also include footnotes from Lin that explain some of his creative process. Now that I've read this book I see what a love letter Hamilton is to hip-hop, musicals of all genres and New York City. The longer I think about it the more impressed I am.  I haven't even mentioned the photographs yet! Being unable to see the musical in person, I loved seeing more of the set and the production than I have in the past. The photos are beautiful too.

It is an amazing look into the story and the legend that will become Hamilton. Obviously, I loved it. I will stop gushing about it and conclude by urging you to listen to the soundtrack if you haven't already. Then pick up this book!

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