Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

An American Life

Book - 2003
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In this authoritative and engrossing full-scale biography, Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of Einstein and Steve Jobs , shows how the most fascinating of America's founders helped define our national character.

Benjamin Franklin is the founding father who winks at us, the one who seems made of flesh rather than marble. In a sweeping narrative that follows Franklin's life from Boston to Philadelphia to London and Paris and back, Walter Isaacson chronicles the adventures of the runaway apprentice who became, over the course of his eighty-four-year life, America's best writer, inventor, media baron, scientist, diplomat, and business strategist, as well as one of its most practical and ingenious political leaders. He explores the wit behind Poor Richard's Almanac and the wisdom behind the Declaration of Independence, the new nation's alliance with France, the treaty that ended the Revolution, and the compromises that created a near-perfect Constitution.

In this colorful and intimate narrative, Isaacson provides the full sweep of Franklin's amazing life, showing how he helped to forge the American national identity and why he has a particular resonance in the twenty-first century.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, c2003.
ISBN: 9780684807614
Characteristics: x, 590 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. (some col.) ; 25 cm.


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Sep 17, 2020

This book was a disappointment - more hagiography than real biography. I was hoping for a more balanced treatment of Franklin's life.

Mar 17, 2018

Franklin the humorist, scientific researcher and statesman was creative and charming enough to redeem a host of faults. That he had towering faults is clear even from this fatally biased account, although I take it ill that the author buried some unworthy behavior. One strongly suspects that Postmaster Franklin pilfered his enemy’s private correspondence, which Isaacson pretends didn’t happen. He avoids considering Franklin’s pointless betrayal of his political partner Galloway and actually seems to relish B. F.’s weakness for political intrigue. That as Ambassador to France Franklin tolerated spies in his employ comes off as less of an offense than John Adams’ “sourness.” I suppose Isaacson was dazzled by Franklin’s celebrity. I can understand up to a point, but not to tolerating books that inspired the characterization of Biography as “bastard child of History.” It maddens that people distort the record, but in fairness this is still readable and entertaining. Fortunately, “The First American” by H. W. Brands is fun and much more reliable. That one I can recommend heartily. This one gave me an excuse to vent, which is a form of fun.

Nov 13, 2016

that is not only a story of one person, it is the story of the nation. As always, Walter Isaacson beautifully described every significance of Benjamin Franklin. I just loved it.

Mar 27, 2016

A revealing look at an intriguing man and a national savior: Benjamin Franklin's whole life was dedicated to helping the common man and to establishing the democratic republic of the United States. Isaacson's biography removes both the cartoonish image of Franklin the inventor and the idea that perhaps he was something other than a man like any other man--not without flaws. Isaacson's defense of Franklin's legacy at the end of the book was redundant, for me, because that legacy was clinched in one sentence: "He was the only person to sign all four of [America's] founding papers: the Declaration of Independence, the treaty with France [that brought their assistance to the cause], the peace accord with Britain, and the Constitution." He didn't, of course just sign them. He shaped them. He is very much the founding father, in my opinion.

Nov 21, 2014

He was as essential as Washington, Jefferson, and Madison. Isaacson does a masterful job with this biography.

Sep 20, 2012

Excellent biography on this extraordinary man whose astonishing versatility and creativity produced important innovations in science, culture and politics.

Isaacson's work is thorough and balanced, bringing Franklin's many qualities to life, including his flaws.

I docked one star because of some unnecessary repetition, heavy use of unsubtle alliteration, and the reserving of about half the book's 500 pages to Franklin's role in the formation of the United States. Non-American readers may find the many other aspects of his life at least as interesting or more.

However, still a strongly recommended read.

Feb 11, 2012

Very interesting. Amazing a man can do so much in 80 years of life. Franklin was the first great American....

23520000081869seb Jan 23, 2012

Sept 2011


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