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)
Isaacson does a great job defining and realizing the character of Benjamin Franklin. You know him. You know him to the point where the last few chapters become predictive. Not the writing. But the last few chapters of Franklin's life.
Perhaps most astonishing is the way sheer mass of Franklin's legacy. It's written on the parchment of America's story in so many ways defining culture, government, philosophy, arts, finance, and even the sense of a self-deprecating comedic undertones to American Life.
Runger's reading was spot on. Especially the "character" voices he would use to go in and out of quoted text.
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.
Husband, father, building contractor, inventor and audio book lover.
Ben Franklin left an indelible mark on our country. That much is taken for granted. Few, however, know just how much he did. This book should be required reading for diplomats in training and anybody else that wants to learn the art of the deal. Franklin was the first in so many categories that one cannot even begin to list them in a short review like this. Maybe though, one of his most important and enduring legacies would be religious tolerance, a new invention in the colonies at that time. I think that Mr. Isaacson did an impeccable job of bringing Franklin's legacy to life and I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
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.
The narrator must really love his peanut butter. If you are sensitive to disgusting mouth sounds, this book is not for you. The Audible-page sample audio is pretty clean and not so ??representative of the mind-numbing 24-plus hours. If you listen in the car or another noisy environment, you will be fine. Otherwise, be warned.??
I would recommend to anyone who has an interest in American history and one of the great characters thereof. Isaacson is brilliant as usual,and the performance is quite good.
like a great biography.
The story itself is great. A life well lived. An Inspirational man.
I would have chose a more inspired and narrator. Hard to concentrate when the book is so long and the story telling is slow and monotone. I recommend speeding it up if listening through the app.
Slow, monotone (ish) mouth noises.
No single moment really.
Great information to know about this historical figure. Wouldn't listen to it again...
I would encourage listeners to try the abridged edition for two reasons: 1. Isaacson's writing does drag on, especially at the end, when he delivers a dry bones evaluation of Franklin's character. 2. Nelson Runger has a pleasing voice, but he made a critical mistake that is funny and annoying. He speaks all the quotes from Franklin - and there are hundreds of these - in the worst, sing-song, old man voice imaginable. Ironically, the text says it's a shame to categorize Franklin as a "genial codger," while this is exactly the way Runger portrays him. I don't know who made the decision on Franklin's voice. I'm not sure this convention of changing voices works, anyway. I'm in favor of the old, "Quote," "Unquote."
I learned some interesting things about Franklin. He was a typical egomaniac, brilliant at communication, always holding others to standards he avoided himself. For example, he expected his family to follow his instructions and support his politics, even though he chose to spend most of his life far away from them.
26 years in SAC with the B-52's during the Viet Nam War.
The great detail about his personal life
Held my interest and went into great detail
Too long. Not too interesting to my taste. Maybe the abridged version is better.
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