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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 (816 )
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4.2 (697 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Shane McAlester, ok, United States 05-11-15
    Shane McAlester, ok, United States 05-11-15 Member Since 2013
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    "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
  •  
    Guillermo Escalona 04-14-15
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    "A book that makes me proud to be an American"

    Great narration, really described Benjamin Franklin, really enjoyed the narration of this great book,Thanks

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe 04-13-15
    Joe 04-13-15 Member Since 2014
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    "An example of how a biography should be written"

    Isaacson has written a very enjoyable biography of Franklin. Never boring or too laden with detail, this volume really engages its listener-reader. From a historian's point of view, the only criticism might be that Isaacsom loves his subject too much.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Hardesty 04-10-15
    M. Hardesty 04-10-15 Member Since 2011
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    20
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    "Excellent book and narration."

    Despite contrary reviews, I found the narrators voice to be pleasant and fitting for a Benjamin Franklin biography. The author provided a balanced perspective of Franklin's positive and negative qualities. Franklin was not the best family man, but his contributions to the United States and the world are unprecedented. Kudos!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MarySue S. 04-02-15
    MarySue S. 04-02-15
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    "History comes alive"

    Well done... This book makes history come alive. Enjoyed the pace and the details from Ben Franklin's writing. Amazing man.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cotharyus Nashville, TN 03-12-15
    Cotharyus Nashville, TN 03-12-15 Member Since 2014
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    "A brilliant perspective on an American Essential"

    If you think Franklin just flew kites it's time to get in touch with a man who helped shape America. If you think you knew Franklin before, get ready to hear an old friend reminiscing about himself in an intimacy you've never known before.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer K. 03-05-15
    Jennifer K. 03-05-15 Member Since 2014
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    7
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    "Fascinating! Wealth of research yet Ben F lives!"

    Really liked it. I wouldn't want to take a quiz after listening because it was so heavy with history and facts. However, Ben Franklin was alive in story and letter.
    I'm looking forward to reading the autobiography now and am glad to have the perspective of Isaacson's book. I read/listened to his book on Steve Job and am going to start Einstein now. I recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    susan 02-17-15
    susan 02-17-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Reader had sinus problems"

    Some poor production values compared to Chernow bios on the Founders. The life of Franklin is fascinating and even inspiring,

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jared 02-11-15
    jared 02-11-15 Member Since 2014
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    9
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    "Good summary"

    I enjoy Walter Isaacson's works. His portrayal of Benjamin Franklin was a good overview of the man. However it was not an indepth character assessment like I would of preferred.
    Isaacson tells the actions of Franklin as well as his influence on the world he left behind but, Isaacson's does not go into detail about the motives and shaping of Benjamin Franklin's character like he did with Steve Jobs.

    However to be fair he had no direct access to the same personal resources as he did for Job seeing as how most of them died 200 years ago.

    Great if you want to know more about Benjamin Franklin.
    Bad if you want to know who Benjamin Franklin really was.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Krishnamoorthy Subramanian 02-11-15
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    3
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    "Narration is not good."

    Very difficult to listen to this style of narration. Can't get past the first few chapters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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