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Benjamin Franklin: An American Life | [Walter Isaacson]

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

Benjamin Franklin is the founding father who winks at us - an ambitious urban entrepreneur who rose up the social ladder, from leather-aproned shopkeeper to dining with kings. In best-selling author Walter Isaacson's vivid and witty full-scale biography, we discover why Franklin turns to us from history's stage with eyes that twinkle from behind his new-fangled spectacles. In Benjamin Franklin, Isaacson shows how Franklin defines both his own time and ours. The most interesting thing that Franklin invented, and continually reinvented, was himself.
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Publisher's Summary

Benjamin Franklin is the founding father who winks at us - an ambitious urban entrepreneur who rose up the social ladder, from leather-aproned shopkeeper to dining with kings.

In best-selling author Walter Isaacson's vivid and witty full-scale biography, we discover why Franklin turns to us from history's stage with eyes that twinkle from behind his new-fangled spectacles. In Benjamin Franklin, Isaacson shows how Franklin defines both his own time and ours.

The most interesting thing that Franklin invented, and continually reinvented, was himself. America's first great publicist, he was consciously trying to create a new American archetype. In the process, he carefully crafted his own persona, portrayed it in public, and polished it for posterity. His guiding principle was a "dislike of everything that tended to debase the spirit of the common people". Few of his fellow founders felt this comfort with democracy so fully, and none so intuitively.

In this colorful and intimate narrative, Isaacson provides the full sweep of Franklin's amazing life, from his days as a runaway printer to his triumphs as a statesman, scientist, and Founding Father. He chronicles Franklin's tumultuous relationship with his illegitimate son and grandson, his practical marriage, and his flirtations with the ladies of Paris. He also shows how Franklin helped to create the American character and why he has a particular resonance in the 21st century.

©2003 Walter Isaacson (P)2011 Simon & Schuster

What the Critics Say

"The most readable full-length Franklin biography available." (The Washington Post Book World)

"Energetic, entertaining, and worldly." (The New Yorker)

"In its common sense, clarity and accessibility, it is a fitting reflection of Franklin's sly pragmatism.... This may be the book that most powerfully drives a new pendulum swing of the Franklin reputation." (The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (908 )
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4.2 (782 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Tim 07-23-15
    Tim 07-23-15 Member Since 2012

    A pseudogeek/curmudgeon/guitargod.

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    66
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "New insites"

    Helped me better understand this man, whom we think we've known since childhood, and his many sided personality

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wicked Celtics 07-17-15
    ratings
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    47
    7
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    Story
    "An incredible life told incredibly well"

    I could hardly stop listening to this biography. Should be required reading for every American.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris 07-11-15
    Chris 07-11-15 Member Since 2014
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    1
    1
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    "American founder lost in public education"

    A must for anyone who want to rediscover the founding fathers.

    Very well presented biography that helps reshape a false image of generality and criticism of one of the greatest American founders, philosophers, scientists and statesman in my opinion has ever lived.

    The narration is good though at times the narrator has a few bouts of "peanut butter" noises that can be a little irritating, but it isn't throughout. In my opinion a lot of it is from the way it was recorded, and is obvious that the editing got lazy half way through and ignored these pauses.

    Either way a great listen!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bdamherst 06-10-15
    bdamherst 06-10-15 Member Since 2014
    ratings
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    4
    1
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    "An excellent journey"

    A great book with insight into all aspects of Benjamin Franklin's life. I was worried the book would be dull, it was not.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John F. Power 06-05-15 Member Since 2013

    saildad_2000

    ratings
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    1
    1
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    Story
    "Wonderful life"

    Well read story with interesting insight. The readers inflections truly add to the story. Keep this in mind for any history buff.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan 06-04-15
    Ryan 06-04-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Disgusting Mouth Noises by reader!!"
    Would you try another book from Walter Isaacson and/or Nelson Runger?

    Walter Isaacson's story was great.

    The narrator Nelson Runger was absolutely disgusting with his mouth noises and completely distracted from the story.


    What didn’t you like about Nelson Runger’s performance?

    Mouth noises!!! Do not, I repeat do not buy this book if you do not like someone smacking/licking his lips in your ear. He swallows very loudly and makes strange noises way too frequently while reading. How hard is it to turn your head away from the mic?! The pauses he takes to drink and swallow distracts from the story as they are sometimes up to 5 seconds long, almost like a break between chapters.

    I will NEVER purchase a book read by this author again!!


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Anger that the narrator was so bad!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Grant 05-30-15
    Grant 05-30-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    3
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    Performance
    Story
    "The complete Franklin"

    It's an exhaustive bio of a complex man, often mistaken for a simple one. Isaacson could have trimmed this massive work to concentrate on Franklin's public life. Instead, he examined "The First American" and his private and familial relationships in detail.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura 05-28-15
    Laura 05-28-15
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    2
    1
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    "Great re-learning of the dawning of America"

    I really enjoyed the reliving of that period in our nations birth.

    Amazing leader, and world tracker for the times.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mr Brian Mather 05-12-15 Member Since 2011
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    22
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    "Great book, long but worth it."

    Really enjoyed the story of his life, plus there is great depth about the history of America and the political struggle for independence. Found the latter to be heavy going.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shane McAlester, ok, United States 05-11-15
    Shane McAlester, ok, United States 05-11-15 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    7
    4
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    Performance
    Story
    "Well done and insightful."

    The author put some work in writing this book. It is apparent while reading/listening that he went through quite a few sources. It is an insightful look at Benjamin Franklins life.

    The performer does a great job. However the microphone does pick up a lot of mouth noise which can be distracting. It is not bad enough to to avoid the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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