Branden Jacobs-Jenkins carefully retraces Hamilton's origins as the musical that brought politicians "from both sides of the aisle," from Michelle Obama calling it "the best work of art [she's] even seen in any medium" to Hillary Clinton's quoting it at the end of her 2016 speech at the Democratic National Convention. This book squares the emergence of Hamilton as a cultural darling of the American leftist political classes with its portraits of a morally-questionable political figures in history told through the merging of two forms with notoriously radical roots.
It parses how and why this Broadway musical reached the height of visibility that it has and what this communicates about the American sociopolitical climate and culture at the beginning of the 21st century - especially after one of the most discordant and alarming sociopolitical showdowns since the 19th century. And ultimately, though Hamilton is a perfectly enjoyable and impressively crafty piece of musical theater, it argues that it in many ways is not, in fact, revolutionary. Does Hamilton engage seriously with politics? Or is politics merely the backdrop for the same-old show business?