Jeremy McCarter, coauthor of the #1 New York Times bestseller Hamilton: The Revolution with Lin-Manuel Miranda, is the storyteller of record for the genre-defying cultural phenomenon that is Hamilton. His newest book, Young Radicals, is about idealists fighting for freedom and equality in the early twentieth century. A common thread in McCarter’s work is the power of storytelling to drive social change—from our country’s rebellious founders to the dreamers of the Progressive Era to the modern-day musical that has proven to be a once-in-a-generation cultural coup.
McCarter, a veteran of the Public Theater in New York, takes us behind the scenes of the groundbreaking musical that Michelle Obama called “the best piece of art in any form that I have ever seen in my life.” In Hamilton: The Revolution, McCarter reveals how Hamilton became an international phenomenon—and how it’s already changing the world. Throughout America’s history, McCarter shows, our theaters have been incubators for progressive political movements. Hamilton, resonant with messages about immigration, identity, and political influence, exemplifies how creative performance can drive social change.
With 2017’s Young Radicals, McCarter turns his attention to the passionate activists of the early twentieth century, a moment of maximum possibility for American life. One of these activists was Alice Paul, a brilliant fireband who advocated for women’s suffrage in spite of repeated abuse, confinement, and torture. Paul’s example resonates with today’s politically engaged women, the generation that has embraced “Nevertheless, she persisted” as the ultimate political mandate. Fittingly, McCarter addresses the 2017 Women’s March in the epilogue to Young Radicals, where he draws parallels between the protests of Alice Paul’s day and our own.
“At an increasingly polarizing time in American history, Jeremy McCarter’s compelling work on these early twentieth-century American activists provides much-needed perspective and insight. Engaging, thought-provoking, and wonderfully intimate, this book should inspire artists, writers, activists, and anyone who values peace and justice in a time of conflict and war.”
—Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and New York Times bestselling author of Just Mercy
Ron Chernow, author of Alexander Hamilton, the bestselling biography that inspired the musical, called Young Radicals a “poetic, impassioned book, written with a fierce moral urgency” that “extracts enduring lessons of historical change…[and] provides just the literary antidote we need in the Age of Trump.” Tony Kushner, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright behind Angels in America, stressed the relevance of Young Radicals in today’s political climate: “What makes it essential as well as thoroughly entertaining reading is the incontrovertible argument it makes on behalf of the persistence and power of truth, of the best impulses of our country and of humankind, even in the face of despair-inducing reversals and shattering defeats.”
McCarter believes that stories have the power to make our world better. In 2017, he launched the Make-Believe Association, a Chicago-based production company that presents free readings of concerts and plays followed by open conversations about what these performances tell us about the world we live in. McCarter thinks of the Make-Believe events as “meaningful town halls”—places to build the kind of community ties that a deeply divided America needs.
During his years at the Public Theater, McCarter created and directed Public Forum, a series of performances and conversations exploring the intersection of art and society. He has written on culture and politics for The New York Times, Newsweek, and New York magazine. In 2005, he wrote the liner notes for the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Company.
In his talks, McCarter draws on the lessons of Young Radicals and his involvement with Hamilton to unpack how dreamers and storytellers drive social change. Past audiences include the freshman class at Berkeley, who listened to the Hamilton cast album before arriving on campus, and executives at Google and Bank of America. He lives in Chicago.