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  • Kat Sarfas 4:00 am on 2020/06/26 Permalink
    Tags: , everyone is talking about, hamilton   

    Brush Up on Your History: Hamilton Is Making its Way to Disney+ 

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    July 3rd is going to be a good day—the film that captures the magic of Hamilton: An American Musical will officially start streaming on Disney+. Hamilton won both the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best New Musical—no surprise for the show that’s been a cultural phenomenon since its first off-Broadway performance back in 2015. It’s also been the inspiration for spin-off novels, behind-the-scenes books and new biographies that explore this founding father and revolutionary time in history. As you prepare to watch this mesmerizing live performance in the comfort of your home, check out our collection of Hamilton books and music and brush up on your history.

    Alexander Hamilton

    This bestselling biography was an impulse purchase in an airport bookstore for Lin-Manuel Miranda and his inspiration for creating Hamilton. Ron Chernow won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in Biography for his book Washington: A Life, and continues to unearth stories of American history, most recently with Grant—focusing on the life of the Union Army General and 18th president of the United States. Chernow’s biography of Hamilton paints a portrait of a man misunderstood throughout history and sheds light on the story of America’s birth through his eyes. If you’re looking to understand Hamilton’s backstory and dive into a richly written history lesson, this is the place to start.

    Hamilton: The Revolution

    This backstage pass collects photos, interviews and exclusive footnotes from composer-lyricist-star Lin-Manuel Miranda that traces the progression of this award-winning musical from a performance at The White House Poetry Jam to its opening night on Broadway six years later. This is the definitive must-have guide for any Hamilton fan, and our Barnes & Noble exclusive edition includes a poster showcasing the lyrics from “My Shot,” stunning portraits from photographer Josh Lehrer, and a bonus CD featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda performing libretto annotations.

    Alex and Eliza: A Love Story (Alex and Eliza Series #1) 

    If you’re looking to build on the romantic angle of Hamilton, this fictionalized series follows the relationship of a young Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler. Melissa de la Cruz, author of The Witches of East End and the Descendants series, brings forth an epic love story that starts at the beginning—back to 1777 and the fateful first meeting of two lovers who would go on to forever change the course of American history. The entire trilogy that ends with All for One is now available in paperback and is one YA historical romance you won’t be able to put down.

    The post Brush Up on Your History: <i>Hamilton</i> Is Making its Way to Disney+ appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 6:00 pm on 2017/10/10 Permalink
    Tags: grant, hamilton, , ron chernow, threw away his shot   

    Why Ron Chernow’s Grant Is a Brilliant Book That Will Never Inspire a Hit Musical 

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    The moment it was announced that Ron Chernow had a new book about Ulysses S. Grant coming out (Grant), the first question everyone thought of was whether it would turn into another Hamilton. Chernow’s 2004 biography of one of America’s most brilliant, most misunderstood politicians was a smash bestseller, and moreover, was famously adapted into the instantly legendary Broadway musical by Lin-Manual Miranda. Chernow is a brilliant writer with a talent for making historical figures live and breathe on the page, and Grant is no exception. That said, Grant probably won’t inspire a hip hop-flavored musical, for reasons that have nothing to do with the book, and everything to do with Ulysses S. Grant.

    A Different Kind of Tragedy
    While Hamilton’s pride and ability to lose friends and irritate people gives his story a noble tragedy—particularly the avoidable stupidity of his death—Grant’s tragedy is of wholly different nature, rooted in failure and corruption. Grant was successful for about five years of his life; just prior to the Civil War, he was a washed-up, middle-aged former army officer often mistaken for a homeless person on the street. His application to resume his commission when the war broke out was almost turned down by officers who remembered him being drunk on duty. The Civil War turned out to be Grant’s moment to shine, and his military genius during the conflict—which saw him go from a man the army almost didn’t want, to being commander of all Union armies in just a few years—can’t be denied. But after the war, Grant promptly resumed failing upward.

    Un-Sexy Scandals
    Hamilton was plagued by rumors and bad behavior; his extramarital affairs caused chaos in his life, and his ability to insult people made his political life more difficult than it had to be. But having affairs and getting into duels is kind of sexy, and lends itself to a juicy musical. Grant’s scandals were far less flashybeginning with his shiftless boozing as a younger man. As president, his appointment of a cabinet filled with political hacks and old friends with little experience put him firmly on the road to being one of our least-regarded presidents—but it isn’t exactly the stuff of a moving ballad. Worse, despite leading what is commonly regarded as one of the most corrupt administrations in history, Grant was largely unaware of the sketchy deals being made in his own offices—hardly the stuff of smart lyrics and sick beats.

    Subterranean Grace
    To be sure, Chernow works pretty hard to reclaim some glory for Grant, redefining his presidency upwards. Chernow argues that Grant was actually correct in most of his decisions regarding Reconstruction, and that if he’d been able to push his vision forward, the country would be much different—and likely better off—today. And Grant was certainly a true believer in equality, pushing for laws that would secure the newly-freed black slaves a place in society. The problem is, no one has ever argued Grant was a bad man, only that he was a bad president. His intentions may have been noble, but he lacked the ability to make them reality. Grant’s virtues remained largely buried in his private thoughts; his actions off the battlefield were inadequate, and his speeches, kind of dull. Chernow succeeds in inspiring a second look at Grant’s legacy, but there’s little Broadway-esque drama in the story.

    A Lack of Visuals
    Grant was far from the dashing figure of Alexander Hamilton, boy genius. Where Hamilton got to wear the fancy uniforms of the late 18th century, Grant was known to be a shabby dresser. Where Hamilton had rousing nights of song and revolution in the pubs and taverns of New York, Grant was a solitary drinker, an unhappy sort of alcoholic who would go on lengthy benders, then sober up for protracted periods. He managed to make getting drunk seem like a lot of hard, unsavory work. Unless your idea of a great theatrical visual is a heavyset man in an ill-fitting suit drinking as he stares forlornly at the audience, Grant isn’t the stuff of great theater.

    It is, however, the stuff of great history. Chernow, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Washington, once again reintroduces a figure everyone thought they knew, and manages to make it seem like we’re meeting Ulysses S. Grant for the first time. The Grant that emerges in these pages is more complex and sympathetic than the 18th President we learned about in school, and Chernow writes with an ease and energy that makes reading his prose a joy. Grant is a great book. Grant himself was a great general. But his story would make for a pretty bad night at the theater.

    The post Why Ron Chernow’s Grant Is a Brilliant Book That Will Never Inspire a Hit Musical appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Nicole Hill 3:00 pm on 2016/11/07 Permalink
    Tags: bnstorefront-holidayhistory, , , , hamilton, , ,   

    The Perfect Gift for Hamilton Fans 

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    In the chaotic, surprising whirlwind of 2016, let us not forget that the year’s biggest thing in pop culture was a hip-hop Broadway musical about a founding father (without a father): Alexander Hamilton.

    For many Hamilton fans, the closest they’ve come to the room where it happens is the monumental cast recording (or the in-depth documentary on PBS). But Lin-Manuel Miranda is not one to leave his constituents wanting: in Hamilton: The Revolution, Miranda and cowriter Jeremy McCarter have provided the ultimate Hamilton experience, chronicling the rise of the musical along with the rise of the man who helped drive a revolution.

    The book by itself is a beautiful addition to any coffee table, with its classical history-book binding. But for diehard fans, Hamilton: The Revolution is the ultimate holiday gift. Here’s why your favorite fan needs to open it this gift-giving season.

    It tells the story behind the story
    As a musical, Hamilton immerses itself in the idea of narrative. You have no control, it reminds us in its closing moments, over “who lives, who dies, who tells your story.” For a man who wrote furiously and unceasingly, this had to have been an enormously frustrating concept. For Miranda and his creative partners’ parts, they’ve put themselves back in the narrative, delivering the history of the musical from its inception (and a rather ad-hoc performance at the White House) to the footlights of the Great White Way, six years later. Peppered into this narrative are perspectives from Ron Chernow, the author of Alexander Hamilton, the biography that sparked this journey; legendary theatrical luminary Stephen Sondheim; Questlove; a slew of well-known admirers and collaborators; and President Barack Obama himself. Hamilton traces the arc of the American Revolution, but it’s quite revolutionary as a work of art in its own right. Hamilton: The Revolution trains a well-deserved spotlight on that achievement.

    It gives you a peek at the stage (for cheap)
    More than a full year after Hamilton’s opening night on Broadway, much of the original cast has left the show, including Miranda. Within the book’s pages, their remarkable turns onstage are immortalized in beautiful, page-spanning photos that will leave even those who’ll never find their way to the Richard Rodgers Theatre completely satisfied. Costume and staging details—including some conceptual sketches—are finally available for everyone to envision as they listen to the cast recording during rush hour for the thousandth time. There’s something wonderful about being able to fully visualize the face of the modern Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom) as he croons “My Theodosia” or becomes ensnared once more in one of Hamilton’s verbal traps, always the Wile E. Coyote to Hamilton’s Roadrunner.

    The commentary is nonstop
    Alexander Hamilton is remarkable for the prolific nature of his writings, and Miranda is quite prodigious in his own output. Within the pages of Hamilton: The Revolution, he takes you inside his own mind, annotating the musical’s entire libretto, revealing some of his hip-hop influences, decisions behind certain key lines, and personal anecdotes from the six years it took this musical to fully gestate. For a nuanced and intensive look at the myriad layers to every single lyric (so much character development!), this book can’t be beat. Every listen from now on will be deeper, and Miranda’s notes may give novice hip-hop fans new albums to add to their music libraries. What time is it? Showtime.

    The post The Perfect Gift for Hamilton Fans appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 6:42 pm on 2016/06/15 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , hamilton,   

    Read Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, the Inspiration Behind the Broadway Juggernaut 

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    In 2007, Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda picked up a copy of Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow, in an airport bookstore. He became obsessed with it and was soon inspired to start work on the Broadway show Hamilton, bringing his hip-hop inflected New York style to the 18th-century story of one of America’s most talented—and most overlooked—Founding Fathers. The show won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and recently came thisclose to tying a record for most Tony Awards when it received 11 at the 70th Annual Tony Awards.

    Miranda isn’t alone in his love of Chernow’s book. Originally published in 2004, Alexander Hamilton was an instant hit, sitting on the bestseller lists for months. Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Chernow (he won for 2011’s Washington: A Life), it was celebrated as one of the most readable biographies of the modern age. In light of Hamilton mania, there couldn’t be a better time to add it to your to-read pile.

    An orphan turned Founding Father
    It’s kind of amazing that more people aren’t familiar with Alexander Hamilton in this country. He was a Founding Father, after all. He fought alongside Washington. He shaped the earliest policies of the new country. He almost single-handedly invented the American economy. Add to that his colorful life: born illegitimate, orphaned at a young age, he nevertheless found sponsors for his college tuition and at the age of eighteen, joined a militia company to go fight for what he believed in. After the war he became a member of Washington’s first cabinet, and under President John Adams he was ready to lead an army against France in a war that never quite happened. And, most famously, he worked tirelessly to defeat Aaron Burr in the tied election of 1800, setting off a chain of events that ended when Burr fatally wounded Hamilton in a duel.

    If, after reading all that—which is a shallow dip into the incredible life Hamilton packed into forty-seven years—you’re not itching to start this book now, you are dead inside. Or possibly not American. Or both.

    An enemy of powerful men
    So how is it that such a talented man, such a force in the early days of the United States of America, a man who had such a profound influence on our shared history, is so relatively unknown? Aside from his many personal flaws—not the least of which was agreeing to fight in duels—Hamilton made a lot of enemies because he was one of those brilliant men who often acted without considering diplomacy. Two of those enemies were named John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, men of considerable talent, power, and influence in their own right—and it’s fair to say they both worked very hard to destroy Hamilton in life and beyond, and did a pretty good job of it. Chernow’s book, therefore, isn’t just another biography of a historical figure, it’s the biography of Hamilton, the book that almost single-handedly retrieved Hamilton from the dustbin of history and put him back in the hearts and minds of Americans everywhere.

    The book that inspired the show
    Which brings us to Hamilton, the amazing Broadway show. This is the book that inspired it. Let’s say that again: the Broadway show that everyone is talking about, that no one can get tickets to, that people enter a lottery for every day of their lives and never seem to win (but we’re not bitter), was inspired by Ron Chernow’s book. The show is almost entirely sung through, which means that with one exception, you can listen to the soundtrack and hear every song and every line written for it—which makes reading Chernow’s book while listening to the cast recording what scientists call an awesome experience.

    Chernow Himself
    Alexander Hamilton was an extraordinary man. He exploded out of his youth and achieved more in his forty-seven years than most people do in twice the time. And that incredible talent and his placement in history make him an easy subject to obsess over—but let’s not forget what Ron Chernow brings to the table. Alexander Hamilton is easily the most readable history published in recent years, a book that is fun to read but never sacrifices facts, research, or insight. The combination of clear, enjoyable prose and the incredible facts of Hamilton’s life make this a history books that you’ll happily make time for—and miss after you’ve turned the last page.

    We may never get to see Hamilton live on stage. But we can read this incredible book—and now’s the time to do it.

    Shop all history >
  • Brian Boone 4:00 pm on 2016/06/10 Permalink
    Tags: , hamilton, , , page to stage,   

    The Books Behind 8 Popular Musicals 

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    In musical theater parlance, “book” refers to the non-sung portions of the script, or the dialogue and stage directions. But there are more books in musical theater: the actual books that inspired some of the biggest musicals of all time (some of which eclipsed the popularity and prominence of the source material!).

    Hamilton (Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow)
    The biggest thing to hit Broadway in years is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop retelling of the life and death of Alexander Hamilton. (Please send tickets.) Hamilton racked up a record-breaking 16 Tony Awards nominations this year, and while Hamilton the man is a well-known Founding Father, Miranda took direct inspiration from Pulitzer Prize-winner Ron Chenow’s bestselling 2004 biography Alexander Hamilton, which he happened to pickup during a layover at an airport.

    Damn Yankees (The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant, by Douglas Wallop)
    The baseball-themed musical is a retelling of the Faust story, solidified in the Western canon by Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust. In both of those versions, a man sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for money, success, and glory. In Damn Yankees, a middle-aged businessman (and Washington Senators fan) sells his soul in order to become a young power hitter (and beat the New York Yankees). The musical is an adaptation of the hit 1954 novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant by Douglas Wallop, who also wrote the musical’s book.

    Fiddler on the Roof (Tevye the Dairyman, by Sholem Aleichem)
    An unlikely smash when it debuted on Broadway in 1964, Fiddler on the Roof takes place in a Jewish village in imperialist Russia in the late 19th century. The musical pieces together different stories from a collection called Tevye the Dairyman. Sholem Aleichem wrote and published the stories between 1894 and 1914, and in Yiddish.

    South Pacific
    James Michener won the Pulitzer Prize in 1947 for his atmospheric collection of World War II stories Tales of the South Pacific, launching his career as one of the most prolific and popular American authors. Based on Michener’s experiences in the Navy during World War II, it only took two years—about the time it makes the average person to read one of Michener’s massive tomes—to adapt it into the perennial musical favorite South Pacific.

    Cabaret (Goodbye to Berlin, by Christopher Isherwood)
    In the late 20s, young British novelist Christopher Isherwood moved to Berlin during its Weimar Republic period. He was attracted to the excitement and sexual freedom the city’s underground nightclubs offered, which he wrote about in Goodbye to Berlin (1939) a loosely fictionalized series of short stories. It was first adapted for the stage in 1951 as a play called I Am a Camera, but became a Broadway classic when John Kander and Fred Ebb took Isherwood’s story and made it into the musical Cabaret.

    Wicked (Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, by Gregory Maguire)
    There’s a fun literary subgenre called revisionism: famous tales retold from the point of view of a different character. Tom Stoppard’s play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead reimagines Hamlet, for example, and Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, is novelist Gregory Maguire’s telling of L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Ozbut sympathetic to the Wicked Witch of the West. Readers, and then theater-goers, finally got learn how and why the Wicked Witch got so wicked. (Spoiler: It’s because of complicated family stuff.)

    Cats (Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, by T. S. Eliot)
    T.S. Eliot is regarded as one of the finest English language poets, and is most famous for his long works such as The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock and The Waste Land. But his most enduring work was a lark—a collection of poems about cats called Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Andrew Lloyd Webber put the poems to music and in 1981 Cats debuted on the London stage. In 1982 it opened on Broadway, where it ran for 18 years.

    Fun Home (Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel)
    Last year’s Tony winner for Best Musical is about a young woman growing up in a funeral home and coming to terms with her own sexuality while her father comes out, too. It’s based on the graphic novel of the same name by Alison Bechdel. It’s the first ever graphic novel adapted for the stage.

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