Books: Alexander Hamilton, American

Free Press, 1999 | ISBN 0-684-83919-9

An illegitimate orphan from the West Indies brings his adopted country into the modern financial world, then throws his life away in a duel with the Vice-President.

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There are three modes of leadership. The highest is inspiration: rare, sometimes false, but impossible to live without. Next is demonstration—honestly sharing all your reasons with all comers; explaining where they come from, and where they lead. Lowest is flattery, which either fools both the leader and his followers, or fools no one, but is indulged, because followers and leaders are too tired to think of anything else. Hamilton seldom rose to the highest level, and would not sink to the lowest. His greatest rivals, such as Jefferson, inhabited all three, especially the first and the third; hence their success.

It is not just Hamilton’s problem.

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