Jonathan Hennessey’s new graphic novel, Alexander Hamilton: The Graphic History of an American Founding Father, is 168 pages of living history. The biography, illustrated by Justin Greenwood, chronicles Alexander Hamilton’s life – from his birth in the West Indies to his death in a duel with Aaron Burr.
Hennesey uses both summarization and primary sources (i.e. direct quotes from historical figures) to create dialogue and narrate the events of Hamilton’s life. The 24 chapters in the book, all of which cover Hamilton’s life, also provide readers with a glimpse into other American historical events, including the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the Critical Period, and the Federalist Age.
- Illustrations: Greenwood’s vivid illustrations lend life to events nearly 200 years old. Textual passages like Hennesey’s, if found in a textbook, may disconnect readers from visualizing the historical situation in context – not because the writing is bad, but because Hennesey’s writing style is semi-formal and sometimes difficult to digest.
- Content: Several instances of language are used in the book. This is easily solved with a good Sharpie. Hennesey does cover Hamilton’s affair with Maria Reynolds, and there are some illustrations relating to this affair that are too risqué for younger audiences.
- Writing Style: As mentioned above, Hennesey’s writing style is semi-formal. The diction level and syntax structures may be difficult for adolescent students to grasp. The illustrations, thus, help enormously in aiding comprehension.
Alexander Hamilton: The Graphic History of an American Founding Father is currently available for purchase through Amazon in hardcover, paperback, and e-book formats. For more information on the book, check out the biography’s webpage.
Disclaimer: I received this book as a review copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion, as represented in this review.