If you are a fan of Hamilton the Musical, you own a copy of the soundtrack, you have read the Chernow biography (my review), you are frustrated because you can’t get a copy of the tickets, you have watched all of the youtube clips you can find and you are still interested in the show, you should buy a copy of Hamilton: The Revolution.
Hamilton: The Revolution is two (or three) books in one. One book is written by Jeremy McCarter. McCarter is a theater critic and friend of Lin-Manuel Miranda. McCarter traces the development of the show, the background of all of the performers and collaborators. He talks about how the show developed from pre-production idea to early musical pieces to the initial trial run to the Broadway version. There is discussion of how musical pieces changed, motivation behind some of the writing of the pieces and other personal thoughts about the show and the actors.
The second aspect of the book is the lyrics of the show (the libretto) for the whole show, with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s annotations. I have read the lyrics that were available in Amazon’s version of the soundtrack, but that is only about half of the pieces. So this is the first time I have actually read the lyrics of the entire show.
The third aspect of the book, and the real reason you should purchase this in print is the photographs that make this a coffee table book. The libretto is filled with photographs. If you purchase this as an audiobook, a PDF of the libretto is included, but that is not as impressive as holding the whole book.
Initially I did not think I was going to buy the book. I did not pre-order the book because I wanted to see if the book was whisper-synced with the Kindle and Audiobook version. But when the Kindle edition was $17 I did not even consider it. So I purchased the audiobook. After I was half way through the audio, and had flipped through the PDF, I went out and purchased the hardcover at Barnes and Noble after I saw that Amazon has the hardcover on backorder.
I enjoyed listening to the audiobook, but I would recommend purchasing the hardcover. The audiobook is six hours. Nearly five hours is the main text of the making of the musical section. The rest of the audiobook is Miranda reading the annotations without the libretto text. So it sounds like reading footnotes and doesn’t make sense unless you are looking at the PDF. And if you are looking at the PDF, then there is no reason to listen to the narration.
The PDF is fine (this is an image of one of the pages), but it is a nicely designed book that was intended to be flipped through in paper.
Update: Re-reading the libretto and notes in full, and slowly, there is so much brilliance in the show. The annotations do not explain half of the references, but there are a lot of lines that I did not fully understand. And there are a number of the annotations that explain references, especially to hip-hop history or lyrics that I never would have understood in any other way. The biblical, literary, political and historical references I had a chance of understanding, I had no chance of understanding hip-hop history. The density of the rhyme scheme and lyrical content really does need to be read to be fully appreciated.
Hamilton: The Revolution by Jeremy McCarter and Lin-Manuel Miranda Purchase Links: Hardcover, Kindle Edition, Audible.com Audiobook (the audiobook includes the PDF of the libretto with Miranda’s annotations)