There is a reason why Lin-Manuel Miranda called this book #Hamiltome on Twitter: It’s big and heavy, with binding that reminds one of The Encyclopedia Britannica. Or maybe that part is just me. Anyway, the book is very pretty and has a bunch of photos all-throughout. For someone who has not been able to see the live production, this is great because you can see how things are staged. For instance, I knew that Jasmine Cephas-Jones sang the line “Me? I loved him” in the first song, but I hadn’t realized she was singing as Maria Reynolds, not Peggy Schuyler, until I read the book. The main part of the text is by Jeremy McCarter and tells the story of how the musical was made and how each person came to be involved. Interspersed between chapters are the lyrics, complete with notes written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Because the internet has been so helpful annotating the references to (and quotations of) the musical influences present in the songs, Miranda was able to share stories that didn’t already appear on annotation sites like Genius. For instance, at the start of “You’ll Be Back” he relates how something Hugh Laurie said inspired the song. I loved this book so much I read it twice: once on audio so I could hear Lin-Manuel Miranda read his parts, and once in print so I could look at all the pictures. The audiobook does not include the song lyrics, just the text by McCarter and Miranda’s notes. My only complaint about the book is that it doesn’t tell who the actors are in the pictures when it’s one of the full-page spreads serving as a background for the lyrics. The main cast I know, but I would have liked to have the Company members pointed out to me. Anyone who has an interest in the making of musicals in general and Broadway productions in particular will find value in this, even if they are not fans on this specific musical. Hamilton fans probably have already read this book several times, so I don’t think I need to sell it to them.;)
Review by Jessica A.