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Ron Chernow

Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Washington: A Life and Alexander Hamilton

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  • About Ron Chernow

    An honors graduate of Yale and Cambridge, Ron Chernow is one of the most distinguished commentators on history, politics, and business in America today. He has won virtually every major prize in American letters. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has hailed him as “one of the pre-eminent biographers of his generation” while Fortune magazine has called him “America’s best business biographer.” In September 2015, President Obama conferred upon him a National Humanities Medal at the White House and he was honored the same week by the National Archives in Washington.

    Mr. Chernow’s first book, The House of Morgan, won the National Book Award as the best nonfiction book of 1990 and is considered a modern classic. The Modern Library Board voted it one of the 100 best nonfiction books published in the twentieth century. His second book, The Warburgs, won the prestigious George S. Eccles Prize for the best business book of 1993 and was cited by the American Library Association as one of the year’s ten best works. In reviewing his 1997 collection of essays, The Death of the Banker, The New York Times called Mr. Chernow “as elegant an architect of monumental histories as we’ve seen in decades.” His 1998 biography of John D. Rockefeller, entitled Titan, was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award for biography and remained on The New York Times bestseller list for sixteen weeks. Both the Times and Time magazine voted it one of the ten best books of the year, while The Times of London praised it as “one of the great American biographies.”

    Mr. Chernow’s much anticipated biography of Alexander Hamilton was published in April 2004 to extraordinary acclaim. The New York Times praised it as “moving and masterly…by far the best biography ever written about the man,” while USA Today hailed it as “a must-read. Ron Chernow’s masterpiece.” The New York Review of Books called it a “great biography.” Excerpted by Business Week and chosen as the main selection of The Book-of-the-Month Club and the History Book Club, the book spent three months on the New York Times bestseller list and was the first recipient of the George Washington Book Prize for the year’s best book about the founding era. It was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award in biography.

    In October 2010, Mr. Chernow’s long-awaited biography of George Washington, Washington: A Life, appeared to outstanding reviews. It was the main selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club as well as of the History and Military Book Clubs. Writing in The New York Review of Books, Gordon Wood praised it as “the best, most comprehensive, and most balanced single-volume biography of Washington ever written.” Excerpted by the Smithsonian magazine, the book spent five weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. The Wall Street Journal named it one of the year’s ten best and it was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History. In March 2011, the New-York Historical Society gave the book its coveted American History Book Prize for the best volume about American history published in 2010, endowing Mr. Chernow with the honorary title of American Historian Laureate. In May of that year, Washington: A Life was honored with the Pulitzer Prize in Biography, the highest honor reserved for a writer in the field.

    A frequent contributor to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Chernow is a familiar figure on national radio and television shows and has appeared in numerous documentaries. He has served as president of PEN American Center, the country’s preeminent organization of book authors; has sat on the board of the Society of American Historians and Humanity in Action, a global human rights organization; and is a fellow of the New York Academy of History. He has received eight honorary doctorates: from Marymount Manhattan College, Hamilton College, Long Island University, Washington College, Skidmore College, Muhlenberg College, Niagara University, and Lafayette College. He has also received the lifetime achievement award of the Biographers International Organization.

    Starting in 2008, Mr. Chernow began working with Lin-Manuel Miranda as the historical consultant on the sensational Broadway musical “Hamilton,” inspired by his biography of Alexander Hamilton and considered the biggest Broadway hit of the past fifty years. In May 2015, as a member of the show’s creative team, he received the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical—the first time he had ever received a theater award. The show was nominated for a record-breaking 16 Tony Awards, winning 11 of them. In November 2015, Mr. Chernow and Mr. Miranda jointly received the History Makers Award of the New-York Historical Society for their work together on the acclaimed show. That same month, Mr. Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton returned to The New York Times bestseller list, where it stayed for more than a year, selling more than a million copies. His work has been translated into fifteen languages.

    Chernow has recently continued his journey into the lives of historical figures with Grant, a biography of President Ulysses S. Grant. In addition to receiving rave reviews, Grant was a #1 New York Times bestseller and a New York Times notable book for 2017.

    Mr. Chernow resides in Brooklyn, New York.

     

  • Speaking Topics

    George Washington: The Man and the Myth

    Alexander Hamilton: The Man and the Musical

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  • Praise for Ron Chernow

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    “Mr. Chernow delivered one of the best talks on Washington that I have ever heard! All the feedback from people who visited the Museum Shop after the program, was the same: incredible speaker… it was just an outstanding day.”

    Washington and Lee University

    Praise for Washington: A Life

    The best, most comprehensive, and most balanced single-volume biography of Washington ever written.

    The New York Review of Books

    Truly magnificent… [a] well-researched, well-written and absolutely definitive biography.

    The Wall Street Journal

    A truly gripping biography of George Washington… I can’t recommend it highly enough—as history, as epic, and, not least, as entertainment. It’s as luxuriantly pleasurable as one of those great big sprawling, sweeping Victorian novels.

    The New Yorker

    Praise for Alexander Hamilton

    A splendid life of an enlightened reactionary and forgotten Founding Father. Literate and full of engaging historical asides. By far the best of the many lives of Hamilton now in print, and a model of the biographer’s art.

    Kirkus, Starred Review

    A brilliant historian has done it again! The thoroughness and integrity of Ron Chernow’s research shines forth on every page of his Alexander Hamilton. He has created a vivid and compelling portrait of a remarkable man—and at the same time he has made a monumental contribution to our understanding of the beginnings of the American Republic.

    Robert A. Caro, author of The Power Broker and The Years of Lyndon Johnson

    Alexander Hamilton was one of the most brilliant men of his brilliant time, and one of the most fascinating figures in all of American history. His rocketing life-story is utterly amazing. His importance to the founding of the new nation, and thus to the whole course of American history, can hardly be overstated. And so Ron Chernow’s new Hamilton could not be more welcome. This is grand-scale biography at its best—thorough, insightful, consistently fair, and superbly written. It clears away more than a few shop-worn misconceptions about Hamilton, gives credit where credit is due, and is both clear-eyed and understanding about its very human subject. Its numerous portraits of the complex, often conflicting cast of characters are deft and telling. The whole life and times are here in a genuinely great book.

    David McCullough, author of John Adams
  • Books by Ron Chernow

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