• Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

  • By: Walter Isaacson
  • Narrated by: Nelson Runger
  • Length: 24 hrs and 40 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (8,646 ratings)

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Benjamin Franklin: An American Life  By  cover art

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

By: Walter Isaacson
Narrated by: Nelson Runger
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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

Critic reviews

"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)

Featured Article: 45+ Wise, Wry, and Surprisingly Timely Benjamin Franklin Quotes

One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin was a man of many talents. He was a brilliant scientist, inventor, writer, diplomat, and humorist who left his mark on the world through his creative drive, intellectual prowess, and unique sense of humor. He lived an extraordinary life that continues to have an impact. Read on for Ben Franklin’s epochal quotes from his autobiography, correspondences, and Poor Richard’s Almanac.