The writing was clear, the story well told. It didn't feel like a history lesson but I did re-learn a bit of history and enjoyed getting to know the man. Glad I tried it. the narration was well done also, not distracting.
Ardent Audible listener with a long commute!
Benjamin Franklin was frozen in time for me, forever wearing wearing breeches; white stockings; leather shoes; a vest with a gold fob; a dark coat; grey hair, tied back with a ribbon; and holding a kite during a storm. I'm sure it's an illustration I saw as a child. I knew he'd done many other things, but what I knew was like reading a resumé and taking an American History I test.
I was so pleased to read this book, and have the man and his times come alive. Franklin was a polymath and made so many important contributions. He invented the Franklin Stove, still in use today - and never patented it, which could have made him quite wealthy. He established the use of lightening roads, and undoubtedly saved many more lives than can ever been counted. Franklin was a highly regarded scientist and published in subjects such as electricity, ocean currents, and meteorology.
Franklin began his professional life as a loyal Brittish subject, but eventually changed. This book explains why - and that he was the target for assassination by the British Empire for a time.
It's hard to think of a "Founding Father" and demi-god as human, which explains the scandal more than 200 years later when Thomas Jefferson's second family was revealed. Franklin was no George Washington - he had his share of dalliances, and his first child was born to a woman he was not married to, and who has never been identified. Rather than hide his son, as so many current politicians try to do (Schwarzenegger, Edwards, etc.), he acknowledged William. Franklin and his common-law wife Deborah raised Williao on m. William eventually becamse the last British governor of New Jersey, leading to a rift between the men that never healed - in part because William helped the English against his father.
The book's discussion of Franklin's life in the French Court is fascinating. He played an essential part in establishing that important alliance.
I am embarassed to admit that until I'd read this book, I had been under the misapprehension that Franklin had never been elected to office, only appointed (Postmaster, Ambassador to France). I'd somehow equated that to him not being a good politician. That simply wasn't the case - he was elected President of Pennsylvania before American Independence, which was somewhat similar to a governorship. He ran a skillful campaign and engaged in political tactics that today's political consultants have no doubtedly studied.
The audio book is very long, and well worth the listen.
The audio editing on the book wasn't great, though - I was able to hear the narrator take breaths, which I found distracting. Without the editing problem, I would have rated the performance at a 4.
With respect to the text, from time to time, I found myself confused about how the author had arrived at a certain point. With a text book, I would have looked back a few pages to figure out what the subject was. If Audio Books had chapter names, that would have helped.
I learned more about context and reality of the American Revolution as incidental points in this book than in academic study. An excellent book, with a pleasant-voiced narrator, marred only by the poor quality of the recording. Also, breathing and related noises, as well as noticably poor editting, can be a slight distraction from this otherwise excellent work.
Just thinking about how much Franklin saw and how he had a direct hand in the most important historical events in American history. When you think about it -- it seems almost too much to believe that one man was so influential.
I thought the author did a great job of incorporating Franklin's own words into the story. It really gave a sense of how Franklin wrote and his rye (and biting) style.
I thought the narrator did a fine job. The only complaint (and hence the 4 out of 5 stars) was the fact that at time he gave overly-long and at times strangely placed pauses. There were times that I thought the book had stopped playing but it was just a pause. Strange.
I recently took a vacation to London and took a day-trip to Paris. Both cities had historical monuments to franklin -- London his house and Paris his house/statue. That tells you right there how influential he was. One thing that really struck me about Franklin was simply how he would utilize common sense to intimate or predict deep/complicated scientific questions. Truly amazing.
If you're on the fence -- just do it. This was the most enjoyable reading (listening?) experience I've had in years.
I picked this because I'm trying to remedy my atrocious knowledge of American history. (I moved to the U.S. as a pre-teen and never quite caught up.) Now in my mid-20s, I've decided to delve in and expand my knowledge of the history of this great nation, and I'm so glad I started with this particular title. What better way to spark a life-long love of history than with the brilliant Ben Franklin by your side?
H.W. Brands' writing is tremendous. The character he paints of Franklin is so vivid, so colorful, that I felt like I was truly getting to know this giant of a man himself. I didn't want the book to end, long as it was, and even found myself a little misty eyed in the last chapter. You'll have newfound appreciation by the end for one of the greatest Americans that ever lived -- a true polymath who is so remarkable not simply for his role in shaping the course of world history, but also for his contributions to science and to literature. The world could surely use a Franklin in this day and age.
The narration also gets five stars. This was actually the very first audio book, ever, that I've gotten more than a few paragraphs into because I usually cannot stand the narration on other books, but Audible has done a fantastic job raising the bar in that respect and Nelson Runger was simply superb.
Five stars all around.
Love a good thriller!
Overall yes. Although written in two year increments there is occasionally some "flashback" type of connections that jumps farther than that. It's a little disorienting when listening and might track better in written form. There are also sections where the shear number of people interacting can become overwhelming, especially when many of them are not famous historically. Yet due to the length and volume of the work I think many more people are likely to conquer this worthwhile work by audio.
Well, Benjamin Franklin. He's really the only significant character here.
Much of the story takes on the feel of a anecdotal tale you might hear from a friend. Not to infer the work is not well performed and interesting, rather the technique occasionally varies to a more intimate tone of inference. This didn't distract from the performance but would cause you to find yourself smiling in a kind of shared confidence of friend passing along a tale of a sometimes eccentric mutual acquaintance. Considering the length of the material I found Mr. Runger did and excellent job of holding my interest through such a long period.
I found some of Franklin's comments during the Constitutional Congress to be prophetic and remarkably insightful. I was personally struck by his comment when asked by a woman waiting outside as the delegates left after approving the Constitution 'what have you done for us?' he responded " Given you a Republic...if you can keep it".
The courage, personal risk and level of commitment of Franklin and his contemporaries comes through to inspire and humble those of us enjoying the fruits of their accomplishments. As you learn who they were and what they were trying to accomplish it makes you realize why they constructed some of the government as they did. They perhaps trusted to personal honor and integrity to a degree we no longer do, but we would also most likely fail to accomplish what they did without it.
It is a long listen, but if you like to know the people behind the facts of history snip-its, it is well worth your time.
Detailed expose on the life and times of Franklin. Interesting and informative. One of Brands better works.
First of all it was entirely too long and too detailed. TO be sure, Ben Franklin was obviously a great man and he lived a long and full life which deserves such treatment, however the author spent so much time discussing random friends, acquaintances, and contemporary accounts that his (Franklin's) life got muted. I'm glad I stuck it, but more like in the way that you feel after finishing exams than from completing a task you enjoy.
Not really, I'd have to think that other biographers do a better job of editing and focusing on the things that matter.
The constant swallowing, nose breathing, and other gross noises made listening a bit distracting...and at times disgusting. Runger is a great reader and I enjoyed his voice, but I do think they should have been able to edit the track a bit better.
I was mostly glad to have learned so much about an important figure during an important time in our history, I just wish it could have been more fun.
Very well-written biography of Benjamin Franklin- didn't shy away from any aspect of his life. Not to be missed!
All of the life experiences he had and all that he accomplished.
No, it just made me appreciate what a person can accomplish and motivated me to be a better citizen.
This is a great book for anyone of almost any age to listen to.It is a must for anyone interested in history.