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
"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)
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.
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.
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.
I wasn't at the edge of my seat or anything but a biography of this nature could have been 100x more boring without the talent and skills of an author like Walter Isaacson. He used old timey quotes but took care to not overdo it and explained what they meant as needed.
The narrator did cluck his mouth from time to time between chapters but it was only really noticeable with ear buds and certainly not a deal breaker. He also did a nice Ben Franklin voice.
I love good historical biographies for people I'm interested in from eighteenth to twentienth centuries, like, Washington, Bertie, Turman, Wilson, the Life of John Hay, No Ordinary Time and Morris’s trilogy of Teddy Roosevelt. There are a few that really didn’t engage me and this is one. Others that I couldn’t get into were Thomas Jefferson, the Art of Power, and Alexander Hamilton.
I found this book very dry, not detailed in the narrative. It may be due to the lack of actual details available, but Washington was a contemporary and Washington, A Life was profoundly good and engrossing. Bertie (future King Edward VII) was even earlier and is fascinating (but also was read by the unbelievably talented Carole Boyd).
The narrator doesn’t help. I’ve listened to him on other books where his narration didn’t detract from the book (didn’t help either), so I want to be fair to him here. Even if I don’t care for the narrator, I ask myself why I don’t like this book about an amazing man. What I come up with is that I feel like I’m being lectured to in a history class.
Yes, fascinating how complex a person Franklin was
The fact that so much of the story drew upon letters from the time
Good at distinguishing characters with their voice
Mostly good, but there were some editing problems, I think at one point you can hear the narrator drinking water. The book is well written and interesting throughout. I learned a lot about Franklin, not all of it to be celebrated.
"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.
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.
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.
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