Ron Chernow

  • Bestselling writer of 'Alexander Hamilton,' Inspiration for Smash Broadway Play
  • Winner, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize in Biography
  • Bestselling Biographer, Grant, The House of Morgan, Titan, Alexander Hamilton and George Washington

Called “one of the most gifted biographers of this generation” by The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Ron Chernow brings American history to life with funny and revealing portraits of the political leaders and businessmen who changed the landscape of the U.S.  His bestselling book Hamilton is the basis for the smash Broadway musical, and his latest release Grant was an instant #1 New York Times Bestseller. 

 

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Rave Reviews About Ron Chernow
We've had some of the most articulate historians/biographers speak here at the VHS: David McCullough, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Michael Beschloss, Shelby Foote. Well, Ron Chernow was better than any of them. I knew he was a beautiful writer; I didn't know what a splendid, eloquent speaker he was. Our audience was thrilled and enlightened. Thank you so much.

A Sample of the Groups That Have Hosted Ron Chernow
  • Common Wealth Awards
  • Stanford in Washington
  • Virginia Magazine of History and Biography
Ron Chernow Washington Prize Acceptance Speech - Get Sharable Link
Ron Chernow Washington Prize Acceptance Speech
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Ron Chernow Recognized as "Great Historian" by President Barack Obama
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Ulysses S. Grant: The Ordinary Hero

Ron Chernow’s Grant is a sweeping and dramatic examination of one of the United States' most misunderstood and compelling generals and presidents. The lessons learned from studying Grant's successes and failures have fascinating relevance to our current political moment, and flawed but courageous le ...

Ron Chernow’s Grant is a sweeping and dramatic examination of one of the United States' most misunderstood and compelling generals and presidents. The lessons learned from studying Grant's successes and failures have fascinating relevance to our current political moment, and flawed but courageous leadership in a tumultuous landscape.  Chernow - winner of both the Pulitzer Prize in Biography and the National Book Award- is heralded for being as gifted a speaker as he is a writer.

Alexander Hamilton: The Man and the Musical

Ron Chernow's  New York Times bestselling biography Alexander Hamilton tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. In a lively and entertaining speech, Chernow relates how the dramatic story of Hamilton's greatness is worthy of the B ...

Ron Chernow's  New York Times bestselling biography Alexander Hamilton tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. In a lively and entertaining speech, Chernow relates how the dramatic story of Hamilton's greatness is worthy of the Broadway stage and how it is re-engaging America in our collective discussion about the character and future of our democracy.  “To repudiate his legacy,” Chernow writes, “is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world.”

Ever since 2009, Mr. Chernow has worked with Lin-Manuel Miranda as the historical consultant on the sensational Broadway musical “Hamilton,” which was inspired by his biography of Alexander Hamilton. In May 2015, as a member of the show’s creative team, he was a recipient of the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical—the first time he had ever received a theater award. In November 2015, Mr. Chernow and Lin-Manuel Miranda received the History Makers Award of the New-York Historical Society for their acclaimed work on the show. That same month, his biography of Alexander Hamilton returned to The New York Times paperback bestseller list, eleven years after its first publication, making its debut at number two and eventually reaching number one on the list.

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<p><strong>Ron Chernow’s Grant is a commercial and critical success </strong></p>

Ron Chernow’s Grant is a commercial and critical success

Described as the “definitive biography for the foreseeable future” by Publishers Weekly, RON CHERNOW’s release Grant is a sweeping and dramatic examination of one of the most misunderstood and compelling generals and presidents. An instant bestseller on Amazon and The New York Times, Grant is hailed as a book with fascinating relevance to our current political moment: “This is a good time for Ron Chernow’s fine biography of Ulysses S. Grant to appear… As history, it is remarkable, full of fascinating details… As Americans continue the struggle to defend justice and equality in our tumultuous and divisive era, we need to know what Grant did when our country’s very existence hung in the balance. If we still believe in forming a more perfect union, his steady and courageous example is more valuable than ever.”(Bill Clinton, New York Times Book Review); “‘Grant’ is vast and panoramic in ways that history buffs will love. Books of its caliber by writers of Chernow’s stature are rare, and this one qualifies as a major event…Indispensable.” Winner of both the Pulitzer Prize in Biography and the National Book Award, Chernow is heralded for being as gifted a speaker as he is a writer. Already set to illuminate his new work in conversations at the 92Y and as keynote of the Morristown Festival of Books, Chernow has received rave reviews following his speaking engagements such as: “We've had some of the most articulate historians/biographers speak here at the VHS… Well, Ron Chernow was better than any of them. I knew he was a beautiful writer; I didn't know what a splendid, eloquent speaker he was. Our audience was thrilled and enlightened” (Virginia Magazine of History and Biography).

<p>These HWA Speakers' books are making headlines and bestseller lists </p>

These HWA Speakers' books are making headlines and bestseller lists 

From climate change to foreign affairs, new releases from HWA Speakers cover a range of crucial topics. 

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<p>'Hamilton' Nabs Record 16 Nominations</p>

'Hamilton' Nabs Record 16 Nominations

The smash Broadway hit Hamilton, based on Ron Chernow's bestselling biography of Alexander Hamilton, continues with amazing momentum, now with 16 nominations for this year's Tony Awards.

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<p>Ron Chernow Recognized by President Obama as a ">

Ron Chernow Recognized by President Obama as a "great historian."

Ron Chernow, Pulitzer Prize winning biographer and bestselling author of Hamilton, was recognized by President Barack Obama as the "great historian" who inspired the award winning Broadway play as he welcomed the cast of Hamilton to at a special White House performance.

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<p>'Hamilton' Biographer Is Making History on Broadway</p>

'Hamilton' Biographer Is Making History on Broadway

Ron Chernow shares the surprising manifestations of "a biographer's wish-fulfillment fantasy" in this Wall Street Journal interview as the Broadway play Hamilton becomes a sensation and the biography it was based on, Alexander Hamilton, stays on the New York Times bestseller list.

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<p>Ron Chernow: What Would Have Happened If Alexander Hamilton Lived</p>

Ron Chernow: What Would Have Happened If Alexander Hamilton Lived

In this Q&A with Time magazine, Ron Chernow has an opportunity to offer further insights from his commanding knowledge of the period and the subject of his New York Times bestselling work, Alexander Hamilton.

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<p>Ron Chernow's book <em>Alexander Hamilton </em>is the inspiration for the smash Broadway musical <em>Hamilton</em></p>

Ron Chernow's book Alexander Hamilton is the inspiration for the smash Broadway musical Hamilton

Ron Chernow's expertly drawn portrait of Hamilton and the drama that surrounded him has re-engaged a generation in the discourse of America and character, and inspired a musical smash hit.  Mr. Chernow served as a historical consultant to the musical and won several theater awards for his work creating the Broadway phenomenon based on his #1 NYT Bestseller.

<p>Ron Chernow's portrait of Alexander Hamilton is #1 NYT Bestseller's List </p>

Ron Chernow's portrait of Alexander Hamilton is #1 NYT Bestseller's List 

Ron Chernow's masterful storytelling makes this complete, non-fiction portrait a compelling must-read.  He tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America, and deftly illustrates that the political and economic greatness of today’s America is the result of Hamilton’s ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time. “To repudiate his legacy,” Chernow writes, “is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world.” Chernow recounts Hamilton’s turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washington’s aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, coauthoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party, and becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States. 

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Biography

A BRIEF BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF 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.” The Washington Post cited him as one of the “five most important public intellectuals in America today.” In September 2017, 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.

In October 2017, the Penguin Press published Mr. Chernow’s seventh book, Grant, to universal praise. Writing in The New York Times Book Review, President Bill Clinton said, “This is a good time for Ron Chernow’s fine biography of Ulysses S. Grant to appear.” In the daily Times, Janet Maslin observed: “Books of its caliber by writers of Chernow’s stature are rare, and this one qualifies as a major event.” In the Atlantic, Ta-Henisi Coates called the biography “Another classic in the Ron Chernow oeuvre,” while George Will observed in The Washington Post that “Chernow’s Grant is a gift to a nation much in need of measured judgments about its past.” In The Spectator, Amanda Foreman wrote, “Chernow’s genius lies in his unparalleled master of storytelling. Quite simply, he is a biographer’s biographer who sets the standard for others to follow.” In reviewing GrantForeign Affairs magazine called Mr. Chernow “one of the finest biographical writers in American history,” while the Lincoln Journal Star of Nebraska said that the book “cements Chernow’s reputation as America’s preeminent historic biographer.”

The book was nominated for four major literary prizes: the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography, given by PEN America; the Plutarch Award, conferred by the Biographers International Organization; the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, given by Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History; and the Los Angeles Times biography prize. He has already received the Richard Nelson Current Award of the Lincoln Forum and in May will receive the Fletcher Pratt Award of the Civil War Round Table for the year’s best nonfiction book on the Civil War. In May he will be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the highest form of artistic recognition in the country.

The New York Times named the book one of the ten best books published in 2017, as did New York Newsday as well as many other publications. Saying “‘Grant is Great,” Bloomberg News referred to it as one of the must-read books of the year. On the last day of 2017, President Barack Obama listed Grant as one of the best books he had read during the year. The book debuted at number one on The New York Times hardcover bestseller list and stayed at or near the top of the list for more than four months. At the same time Alexander Hamilton shot to number two on the paperback bestseller list after more than ninety weeks on the list. Grant was the best-selling book of the 2017 holiday season, having gone through nine printings in a little more than two months. The film rights to Grant have been bought by Lionsgate, the prestigious Hollywood studio, and Appian Way, the production company of Leonardo DiCaprio.

Mr. Chernow resides in Brooklyn, New York.