Hamilton and the Law: Reading Today’s Most Contentious Legal Issues Through the Hit Musical

Cornell Univ. Oct. 2020. 336p. ed. by ed. by Lisa A. Tucker. ISBN 9781501752216. $39.95. LAW
Fans may not associate the musical Hamilton with the law, but once they finish this book, they’ll realize that this was a topic just waiting to be written—and they’ll be eager to revisit the soundtrack to pick up references they may have missed. Editor Tucker (Thomas R. Kline Sch. of Law, Drexel Univ.) and contributors including legal scholars, lawyers, and two former U.S. solicitors general explore the branches of government, race, gender, immigration, intellectual property, and more. Lawyer Neal Katyal, who challenged President Trump’s so-called travel ban in federal court on behalf of the State of Hawaii, interprets the song “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” as a dissent to the Supreme Court decision Trump v. Hawaii. Law professor Zahr K. Said examines the musical, which references everything from Macbeth to Tupac Shakur, through the lens of copyright law. The authors make their articles accessible even to those without a law background, and the notes for each article are so thorough that those inspired by a particular subject will have a handy reading list to consult.
VERDICT Whether or not readers have a strong grounding in the law, they’ll be stirred by the connections the book draws among Hamilton, current events, and history.
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