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Benjamin Franklin: An American Life Audiobook

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

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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

4.4 (2607 )
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4.4 (2318 )
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Performance
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  •  
    C David Evans II 12-10-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Reader"

    I returned the book because the reader slurped swallowed in competition with the narrative. Content was great.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    thomascollins Sacramento, CA, United States 10-25-12
    thomascollins Sacramento, CA, United States 10-25-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Great Story, too bad it is stuffy"

    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.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kerby 02-12-16
    Kerby 02-12-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "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.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Garret I 11-29-16
    Garret I 11-29-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Hamilton Book is Better"

    Isaacson's book is rich on the trivial and short on Franklin's thinking and involvement in key historical events. Is that the result of the subject or available material?

    The narrator's impersonations got old vey quickly.

    A decent book but not a great book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. D. Gunter Colorado 10-07-16
    J. D. Gunter Colorado 10-07-16
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    "Poor editing"

    The reader was great but I heard him swallow about 100 times and smack his lips. Why wasn't that edited out? It was very distracting and effected my enjoyment of the otherwise good material.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KKuhn 08-07-16
    KKuhn 08-07-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Narrator leaves much to be desired."
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Although the content may have been interesting, I couldn't make it past the third chapter. The initial narrative voice was exactly what I would have expected for a book of this nature, but after the preface was read, the narrator changed to Nelson Runger, and it was like listening to that film strip voice from elementary school in the 70s. Because of the voice, which was relatively monotone with a forced effort to sound interesting, I doubt I will finish listening to this book.


    What didn’t you like about Nelson Runger’s performance?

    His voice. His forced attempt at inflection. You simply cannot force a voice that naturally monotone to be pleasant to the ear.


    Did Benjamin Franklin: An American Life inspire you to do anything?

    I didn't even get far enough for him to have been born, I don't think. The voice was so awful that I had difficulty staying focused on the content.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shira 06-15-16
    shira 06-15-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "The narration is too slow"

    I had to listen on 1.5 speed, which sounded a bit awkward. I wish the narrator spoke faster and more naturally

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DBruno1987 05-19-16
    DBruno1987 05-19-16 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Couldn't Finish It"

    I'm not proud to admit this, but I just couldn't get through this audio book. There were so many details that to me needed to be trimmed off. I didn't feel like I was transported into this world, and Franklin didn't much come to life. I had no touble getting through the Steve Jobs biography by Issacson, but this one was just too dry and too hokey. I cringe a little bit just thinking about the "chore" of finishing this, of hearing the narrator speak in sing songy old timey voice. That voice makes me so much less interested in this period of American History and makes me dread listening to this...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 02-16-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    21
    18
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    "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
  •  
    Jeff Hanson 01-12-16
    Jeff Hanson 01-12-16 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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
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  • 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.

    9 of 11 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
  • Timothy Alonso
    12/28/16
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    "An excellent account of Franklin's life"

    An excellent account of one of America's founding father's life.

    An inspirational story of how much Franklin's pragmatic approach have achieved from his various inventions to his participation during the American revolution.

    It was humbling to know how industrious the man was but couldn't help but be disappointed with how he treated his family, his wife especially.

    This is a multi-layered account of a great man with curiosity ranging from many different subjects. It covered both positive and negative aspects of his life in a balanced and objective way.

    This is definitely worth your time.

    0 of 0 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

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