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Benjamin Franklin by Edmund S. Morgan
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Benjamin Franklin

by Edmund S. Morgan

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I picked this book up in the store at the National Archies, which has a great selection of history books and DVD's. I've been wanting to read more Revolution Era history, so this seemed appropriate. Unfortunately, I found this to be very hard to read and difficult to put into perspective. It jumps right into the middle of Franklin's life, completely ignoring his childhood and family. It also focuses a bit too much on the people Franklin interacts with, rather than his actions. I did learn quite a bit about Franklin, the times and the other actors of the pre-Revolutionary War period, it did a good job at that. Unfortunately, because of the way it was written, I just found it very difficult to read more than a few pages at a sitting, which made it even more disjointed. I did get a good perspective of his attitudes and his approach to science and politics and his accomplishments. ( )
  Karlstar | Jan 1, 2014 |
My first take after beginning this book was the title is misleading. Not because it isn't about Benjamin Franklin, but that it is not simply a biography. But upon further reflection, the title is exactly what the book is about: who was Benjamin Franklin.

From a well respected biographer-historian, Edmund S. Morgan boils down the essence of the prolific Founding Father. More like a philosophical work, Mr. Morgan skips an introductory chapter and begins exploring Franklin's scientific work.

"What was he thinking?" is the currency this book trades on and unfortunately, Benjamin Franklin was efficient at compartmentalizing his personal and public lives. Morgan is honest in prefacing aspects of the statesman's that shall remain mysteries.

Written in a manner allowing any reader to understand, only those familiar with Franklin's life will appreciate the scrutiny given one of America's finest scientist, humorist, printer, and politician. ( )
  HistReader | Dec 17, 2013 |
Enjoyed this as I continue to read more about this country's founding fathers. I find Mr. Franklin almost as interesting as Thomas Jefferson. Now, while I appreciated an easy to read biography, I found the way the author clustered certain forward and backward looking comments from a point of time in Franklin's life took a bit of getting used to. Stylistically not my preference, but I got used to it. Worth a look as a first read in to Franklin's life. ( )
  Pool_Boy | Jul 25, 2012 |
Morgan has spent a long time reading all of Franklin's writings and letters, which, when completely published, will comprise 45 or so volumes. His picture of Franklin that emerges is that of a man with immense talents, but who knew that he would have more influence if he listened more than he talked. He was also immensely curious about everything, including his fellow humans, no matter what gender, religion, or class. For example, he was a friend of the preacher George Whitefield, though he had by then developed his philosophy of moral virtues and had left any formal church.

I've always found the Founding Fathers pretty remarkable, but this book brings into focus how amazing it was that they had the variety of talents needed to make this unprecedented event happen. Franklin, because of his scientific and other accomplishments, had the respect in other countries that made it possible for him to negotiate in France for the money, arms, and men that made the American victory possible.

The years Franklin spent in England were also important. Franklin had an image of a British empire in which the focus was equally on the Amercan continent. He could see that in population, territory, and every measure the colonies were going to surpass England, and he thought the English would recognize it and deal more fairly with the colonies. But he was in the forefront to realize this wasn't going to happen, and it moved him to ideas of an independent America.

This book overall is a remarkable picture of a remarkable man. ( )
  reannon | Sep 19, 2009 |
Acclaimed short bio, heavy use of personal papers, strong focus on Franklin’s beliefs and diplomatic endeavors
  chosler | Jan 13, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0300095325, Hardcover)

Benjamin Franklin is perhaps the most remarkable figure in American history: the greatest statesman of his age, he played a pivotal role in the formation of the American republic. He was also a pioneering scientist, a best-selling author, the country's first postmaster general, a printer, a bon vivant, a diplomat, a ladies' man, and a moralist - and the most prominent celebrity of the 18th century. Franklin was, however, a man of vast contradictions, as Edmund Morgan demonstrates in this biography. A reluctant revolutionary, Franklin had desperately wished to preserve the British Empire, and he mourned the break even as he led the fight for American independence. Despite his passion for science, Franklin viewed his groundbreaking experiments as secondary to his civic duties. And although he helped to draft both the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution, he had personally hoped that the new American government would take a different shape. Seeking to unravel the enigma of Franklin's character, Morgan shows that he was the rare individual who consistently placed the public interest before his own desires.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:30 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Draws on Franklin's extensive writings to provide a portrait of the statesman, inventor, and Founding Father.

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Audible.com

An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

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Yale University Press

Two editions of this book were published by Yale University Press.

Editions: 0300095325, 0300101627

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