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Benjamin Franklin: An American Life Audiobook

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

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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

4.4 (2040 )
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4.3 (1799 )
5 star
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Performance
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  •  
    thomascollins Sacramento, CA, United States 10-25-12
    thomascollins Sacramento, CA, United States 10-25-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Story, too bad it is stuffy"

    Great story about an American hero that changed the course of America. This performance drags at times with old English phrases and many side bars that confuse the story.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. A. New York State 06-15-12
    E. A. New York State 06-15-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Master of Biography"

    Walter Isaacson is a master of biography. Whether an historic subject or contemporary, he makes the individual come alive with all the traits and foibles of the subject. I have read biographies of Franklin but this one is so enjoyable that it was a delight to learn about this founding father again--and maybe even remember it this time since it was so well done. I not only learned the facts about Franklin, I got a real feel of the man. I would recommend the book to anyone interested in history and the life of a great man.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris 07-11-15
    Chris 07-11-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason D. Hata NJ 06-26-15
    Jason D. Hata NJ 06-26-15 Member Since 2016
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    "I love Ben Franklin Biographies"

    A very important, hard working and witty gentleman in our nation's history. It's always enjoyable to learn about people's lives, and every now and again, I always start with Ben Franklin.

    The narator was very good. Having a voice that easily gave me the image of Ben Franklin himself, reading the biography.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mr. Micah Peterson Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada 12-29-16
    Mr. Micah Peterson Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada 12-29-16

    Micah

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    "Great book, good enough reading, but poor sound editing"

    Loved the book! Walter Isaacson is thorough and balanced. Great history lesson as Benjamin Franklin was a big player in a the American Revolution.

    The reader was good, most voices done well, but his Ben Franklin voice is annoying through the whole book. The sound editing is not good and you often hear the reader swallowing and other saliva noises. After 24 hours of these noises, you start to get annoyed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C David Evans II 12-10-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Reader"

    I returned the book because the reader slurped swallowed in competition with the narrative. Content was great.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Garret I 11-29-16
    Garret I 11-29-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Hamilton Book is Better"

    Isaacson's book is rich on the trivial and short on Franklin's thinking and involvement in key historical events. Is that the result of the subject or available material?

    The narrator's impersonations got old vey quickly.

    A decent book but not a great book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. D. Gunter Colorado 10-07-16
    J. D. Gunter Colorado 10-07-16
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    "Poor editing"

    The reader was great but I heard him swallow about 100 times and smack his lips. Why wasn't that edited out? It was very distracting and effected my enjoyment of the otherwise good material.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KKuhn 08-07-16
    KKuhn 08-07-16
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    "Narrator leaves much to be desired."
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Although the content may have been interesting, I couldn't make it past the third chapter. The initial narrative voice was exactly what I would have expected for a book of this nature, but after the preface was read, the narrator changed to Nelson Runger, and it was like listening to that film strip voice from elementary school in the 70s. Because of the voice, which was relatively monotone with a forced effort to sound interesting, I doubt I will finish listening to this book.


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

    His voice. His forced attempt at inflection. You simply cannot force a voice that naturally monotone to be pleasant to the ear.


    Did Benjamin Franklin: An American Life inspire you to do anything?

    I didn't even get far enough for him to have been born, I don't think. The voice was so awful that I had difficulty staying focused on the content.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shira 06-15-16
    shira 06-15-16 Member Since 2016
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    "The narration is too slow"

    I had to listen on 1.5 speed, which sounded a bit awkward. I wish the narrator spoke faster and more naturally

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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