Born to Jewish parents in Warsaw, Hamerow moved to the United States with his family in 1930. He earned his bachelor's degree from City College of New York in 1942, followed by a master's from Columbia University in 1947. In 1951, he earned his doctorate under supervision of Hajo Holborn at Yale University.
Hamerow was a professor of German history at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign from 1952 to 1958, before joining faculty at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he taught until 1991.
- The age of Bismarck, documents and interpretations (Harper/Evanston, New York, NY/London 1972).
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