These were excellent questions, and Ron Chernow wished that he knew how to answer them. Soon after Lin returned from his vacation to Mexico (having folded down many page-corners in Chernow's book, having called out many ideas to Vanessa as they popped into his brain), he reached out to the author of the biography that had seized his imagination. A friend's father supplied Ron's email address, and Lin invited him to see In the Heights.Since January, I've been thoroughly addicted to Lin-Manuel Miranda's hip-hop musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton (based on the Ron Chernow biography). The first song, the title number, grabbed me viscerally as I walked from my hotel to the old town of Dubrovnik one winter afternoon, and has not let go since. I was actually in New York last week, and for a mad moment briefly considered paying hundreds of dollars to get a ticket for the Tuesday evening performance. The fact that I had a breakfast meeting in Washington on Wednesday, and more importantly the confirmed news that Hamilton will come to London in October next year, deterred me, probably for the best.
I got myself the book-of-the-musical as a birthday present, but have only got around to reading it this month. The real book-of-the-musical, of course, is Chernow's biography, but this is a great insight into how the show came to be the way it was; it includes the lyrics for one first-act song which is in the show but isn't included in the album, and a couple of others that were dropped - a third cabinet battle about slavery, a longer version of Hamilton's attack on John Adams. A lot of the notes on specific songs will be familiar to fellow addicts of the annotated lyrics. But the books strength is its stories about how the show came to be written - a couple of the songs squeezed out almost at the last moment, others chopped and changed far beyond their original form - and how the various creators were inspired and implemented their visions for the show, not just Miranda but the many collaborators who brought it to life. It's a book that will be of little interest to those who are not already fans, but of great interest to those of us who are. Unfortunately my copy was missing the first quire, so I'll need to find another. It still has almost all the good bits.
Hamilton: The Revolution reached the top of my list as the most popular book in my unread pile by a non-white author (ie Miranda). Next on that list is Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates.