We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
Benjamin Franklin: An American Life Audiobook

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

Regular Price:$47.20
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

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 (1768 )
5 star
 (950)
4 star
 (585)
3 star
 (173)
2 star
 (42)
1 star
 (18)
Overall
4.4 (1550 )
5 star
 (891)
4 star
 (469)
3 star
 (143)
2 star
 (36)
1 star
 (11)
Story
4.3 (1552 )
5 star
 (829)
4 star
 (476)
3 star
 (165)
2 star
 (58)
1 star
 (24)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Amazon Customer 02-16-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    18
    16
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Personal life vs political life"

    I enjoyed the history and admired Franklin's political life, and learning the impact he had. I struggled with continually hearing about his immoral lifestyle, neglecting his wife and family and continually flirting and seeking the attention of women. That was annoying.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kerby 02-12-16
    Kerby 02-12-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good story but the slurpy breathing and mouth sounds of the narrator were almost unbearable"

    I had to increase the speed to get through the book faster because the mouth noises were so disgusting.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Minecraft lover 01-13-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    15
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good story; kinda hokey narration"

    While the folksy narrating did grow on me and I came to understand it's rationale after listening to more of the story of Franklin's persona as a folksy scientist philosopher, I found the narrating at times distracting. That being said, the importance of the full scope of Franklin's life and the fascinating course that it charted through the colonial to revolutionary period in the nascent United States and the seeds of change in Europe that he either sowed or witnessed, make his story one worth knowing. The story makes some excuses for his cold dismissal (and possible neglect) of his family and it is here, with those serious and grave topics that the folksy narration draws too stark a contrast between narration and content.

    Overall, it's worth the time because this man's story is so integral to the story of the establishment of the American story. I hope another biographer will take Franklin to task (McCullough or Chernow)...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Hanson 01-12-16
    Jeff Hanson 01-12-16 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    23
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great book!"

    Great book, it goes in depth into his somewhat complex character. Franklin is truly one founding father that doesn't get the credit due.
    This book goes beyond the facade we all know & revealing his true character.

    What I didn't like was the references to other authors material. I also found the narrator a bit slow in his reading. It was an easy fix though. I speed the book up to 1.5x in Audible and it read much like normal reading with out the stereotypical New England accent or assumed slownes.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Freado 12-28-15
    Mark Freado 12-28-15 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Time well spent"

    An Informative, entertaining and substantive book. Very well written by Isaacson and presented by Runger.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gregory A Roche 12-05-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A must read on of the greatest men to exist."
    What did you love best about Benjamin Franklin: An American Life?

    Very thorough, much more detailed than the autobiography.


    Any additional comments?

    It's a long and complete story of a complicated founding father of America. A truly fascinating book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Rodriguez 11-20-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    14
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great Book about a Great Man"
    Where does Benjamin Franklin: An American Life rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It's up there. Though because it's so long, I'll probably look into the Bio to re-read instead. The virtues of this man will live on forever.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Ben Franklin of course


    Have you listened to any of Nelson Runger’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I liked his performance. I don't know what the other reviews are talking about with his bad impersonations and "butter lips". He did a splendid job being a story teller and for a history/bio book,his cheesy impersonations keep it fun and indicate it's a direct quote.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Ha! 24+ hour marathon? I still have to squeeze in ear time for the wife.. so not for me in 1 sitting :)


    Any additional comments?

    Fantastic book. Only complaints are about instances of sudden jumps in topics without much warning. In history books that's to be expected but when covering grand topics, it's a little tough when it branches off into another persons tale with little build up. This book might be a little long for some so at minimum get the raw bio of Ben Franklin instead. His practical virtues should be red and studied by all.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike 11-10-15
    Mike 11-10-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Made it to the end"

    A little long, a little slow. Stuck it out. Was worth it for the unique perspective of 1 man at a critical point in the formation of the U.S.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Keith Houske 11-04-15 Member Since 2016

    Reading, listening and learning everyday

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Benjamin Franklin"

    Very insightful book that covered an important part of our country's history. Franklin, far from perfect, was instrumental in so many scientific discoveries and advances. Loved his practical side and his willingness to give so much away.

    Highly recommend this book!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kearn D. Reif Detroit, MI 10-13-15
    Kearn D. Reif Detroit, MI 10-13-15 Member Since 2013

    Pescime

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    42
    19
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "headline"

    A detailed linear look at the life and influences of Ben Franklin. The story was well narrated and enjoyable to listen

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Kirstine
    Bonnyrigg, United Kingdom
    12/29/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An inspiring story of a polymath"

    I knew that Franklin was important in the formulation of the American Constitution and that he played a part in the understanding of electricity, but had not realized how impressive were his other scientific investigations nor how influential he was in international negotiations over independence from Britain. His life from humble beginnings to world fame is an inspiring story of self-education and hard work coupled with an admirable tolerance to all religious creeds and a playful sense of humour. The book is an engaging listen as his far from perfect personal life and extraordinary public one are interwoven with the domestic concerns and important moments in history.
    The reader has just the right amount of folksy charm to narrate this fascinating biography.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • Maddy
    3/26/13
    Overall
    "Highly recommended"

    This was recommended by a friend who read the book, and I was not disappointed by the audio version. I knew next to nothing about Franklin and little about the American process of independence and I found this biography really interesting about both the man and his time. It was a compelling listen and fascinating. Now I'd like to find a biography of his wife, who must have been an extraordinary woman in her own right! Highly recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Eoin Delahunty
    8/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Underwhelming"

    I was underwhelmed by this. My expectations were pretty high having read Isaacsons bio of Steve Jobs. It dragged on and while I know more about Ben Franklin, I wasn't enthralled.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mrs
    Wirral, United Kingdom
    11/19/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Stopped listening"

    This book just didn't interest me and I stopped listening with 8 hours left, I found the narrators voice to bore me a little and the content just seemed a little dull.

    I have read Isaacson's books before and found them to be great, this one missed the mark for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.