Ep 47: “Hamilton” Author’s Latest Bio Uncovers a Heroic U.S. Grant

Ron Chernow is the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, historian, and journalist who wrote the biography which became the inspiration for the record-breaking, hip-hop Broadway musical Hamilton.

In this week’s episode of Just the Right Book, Chernow joins Roxanne to talk about his latest expository biography on Ulysses S. Grant. In Grant, the author paints the former president as a flawed man, yet great general and president. Chernow reveals that after getting thrown out of the Army for drinking on payday, Grant must beg his father for a menial job selling leather goods while working below his two younger brothers. Once the Civil War begins, Grant is called to duty and through his merits is vaulted to the top commander of the Union army.

“My job as a biographer is to probe the ‘silences,’ what the subject doesn’t want to talk about,” says Chernow, referring to Grant’s own military memoirs in which “there is not a single syllable about his drinking problem or his terrible poverty.”

Stay tuned after the interview with Ron Chernow to hear what is currently on Roxanne’s nightstand.

Books in this episode:

Grant by Ron Chernow

Abraham Lincoln: A Biography by Lord Charnwood

Abraham Lincoln by Carl Sandburg

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward



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