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Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by…

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (2003)

by Walter Isaacson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
Benjamin Franklin was many things during his life; printer, magnate, self-made man, scientist, diplomat, politician, sage. This book talks about parts of his life in different stages starting from his early years and concluding with his will donating money to some cities, and how they used the money.

Overall, the thing he most reinvented was himself, being one of the best public relations people ever. Many remember him from his autobiography and neglect to notice that he was writing it as a letter to his estranged son. There are many other facets to his personality that this Walter Isaacson fellow unearthed in his quest to talk about Benjamin Franklin. For instance, he was emotionally distant from his family, instead choosing to have really good friendships with younger ladies. He was closer to his own grandchildren than he was to his own children, and didn't seem to care when his wife had a stroke. It was kind of weird.

The author even mentions that there are only two people in this world, those that like Franklin and those that don't. Some people really hated the man, some entire generations of people have loved or hated him based on the current standards of the day.

Laced within the story of his life is the story of the United States, with some calling Franklin the first American. Franklin even came up with the idea of the strong central government with his Albany Plan. So all in all, this was really a fascinating book. I learned a few things that I didn't know about Benjamin Franklin. ( )
  Floyd3345 | Jun 15, 2019 |
A great book! I deserve a dreaded blue flag (or something) for trying to review an audio abridgement, but I definitively enjoyed this account of an amazing genius with some typical human weaknesses. The political conflicts within his immediate family (son, grandson) were expected and well, shocking to read, nonetheless. Highly recommended. ( )
1 vote Sandydog1 | Oct 19, 2018 |
Growing up in the Philadelphia area as I did, Benjamin Franklin has always been a figure of interest to me and something of a personal hero. This also means that I've read a great deal about him over the years. -- This gracefully-written book contained a number of things about BF that I did *not* know previously. Together with David McCullough's 'John Adams,' one of the greatest biographies I've ever read. (I'd give it six stars -- or more -- if GoodReads would permit!) ( )
  David_of_PA | Jul 14, 2018 |
Well done but author felt need to constantly remind reader that yes, BF was talented, but not a poet and not a philosopher like Hume, not a scientist like Newton. He mentioned this repeatedly. Annoying. Otherwise fascinating insight. Last half of book was lengthy. ( )
  Jeremy_Palmer | Jul 10, 2018 |
This is an excellent biography of Franklin. Isaacson didn't gloss over the dysfunctionality of Franklin's family, though he didn't apply the same hard look at William Penn's family (Penn's family and the citizens of the Pennsylvania were at odds over taxes). But then it would have been more than a simple biography. It is well worth the read!! ( )
  kaulsu | Jun 24, 2018 |
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Walter Isaacsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Runger, NelsonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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His arrival in Philadelphia is one of the most famous scenes in autobiographical literature: The bedraggled 17-year-old runaway, cheeky yet with a pretense of humility, straggling off the boat and buying three puffy rolls as he wanders up Market Street.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 074325807X, Paperback)

Benjamin Franklin, writes journalist and biographer Walter Isaacson, was that rare Founding Father who would sooner wink at a passer-by than sit still for a formal portrait. What's more, Isaacson relates in this fluent and entertaining biography, the revolutionary leader represents a political tradition that has been all but forgotten today, one that prizes pragmatism over moralism, religious tolerance over fundamentalist rigidity, and social mobility over class privilege. That broadly democratic sensibility allowed Franklin his contradictions, as Isaacson shows. Though a man of lofty principles, Franklin wasn't shy of using sex to sell the newspapers he edited and published; though far from frivolous, he liked his toys and his mortal pleasures; and though he sometimes gave off a simpleton image, he was a shrewd and even crafty politician. Isaacson doesn't shy from enumerating Franklin’s occasional peccadilloes and shortcomings, in keeping with the iconoclastic nature of our time--none of which, however, stops him from considering Benjamin Franklin "the most accomplished American of his age," and one of the most admirable of any era. And here’s one bit of proof: as a young man, Ben Franklin regularly went without food in order to buy books. His example, as always, is a good one--and this is just the book to buy with the proceeds from the grocery budget. --Gregory McNamee

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:52 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Chronicles the founding father's life and his multiple careers as a shopkeeper, writer, inventor, media baron, scientist, diplomat, business strategist, and political leader, while showing how his faith in the wisdom of the common citizen helped forge an American national identity based on the virtues of its middle class.… (more)

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