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The Most Dangerous Man in America

Narrated by: Lois Betterton
Length: 9 hrs and 50 mins
4 out of 5 stars (28 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

There have been numerous biographies of Benjamin Franklin, including his own notorious autobiography. This is the most charming and captivating account of all. Every chapter is a bewitching gem, and Franklin lives and breathes on every page.

This is the last book in Catherine Drinker Bowen's brilliant career. With this, she did not intend to write a full narrative biography. Instead she proposed to write "only what interested me about this most consistently entertaining biographical subject". Thus the book focuses on specific scenes in Franklin's colorful life, including his youthful discoveries with electricity, activity in the Albany Congress of 1754, nine years in London and, of course, his part in America's revolutionary plans.

©1974 Allan Crawford (P)1990 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Franklin, a charmer in his time, charms across the centuries....The book, like the man, is astute and delightful." (The New Yorker)

What members say

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 08-20-08

Did this need to be written?

There are several very good Franklin biographies which are both enjoyable and informative. This volume does not claim to be a biography, it seems like a bunch of unconnected notes with little theme or coherency put into a book form. . If you haven't read a Franklin biography, this would not be a good introduction, if you have read one or more good Franklin biographies, this would be unnecessary and unsatisfying.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A unique, highly engaging perspective spiced by bright, restrained opinion


“The Most Dangerous Man in America” is not intended as a comprehensive Franklin Biography. Instead, Catherine Bowen selects episodes from his many experiences and enriches them with details I've found nowhere else, and in a manner steeped with acumen, warmth, and insight. It's worth stressing how different this approach is to the typical Franklin tome. Bowen seems possessed of a particularly exercised perception. She applies this many times though the chapters, breathing light and life into dusty yesterdays, saturating Franklin with a greater depth of personage, of relatable personality, than any other historian has quite managed to capture or convey.

Not every conclusion rings as unassailable. But the whole of her thesis and the great bulk of her insights widen the eye to the Great Man as few others have. The last few chapters and afterward are, in particular, riveting, illuminating, powerful, and deeply poignant. After reading “Dangerous” you won't see Franklin or his life and times in quite the same again. It's just that good.

Catherine Bowen, author of The Most Dangerous Man in America, completed this book even she was dying, or so the editors inform us. Unfamiliar as her other work is to me, I can't speculate on whether or what effect her circumstances may have had on her authorship, but something unique and worthwhile was lost on her passing, and that quality is conveyed in nearly every sentence of this fine, and final, work.

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  • Mark
  • Los Angeles, CA, US
  • 08-29-17

A Most Laudable Last Work

Loved this audible presentation. Big fan of franklin and bowen and sense both brilliant humans delivered grace to us all.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good story, garbled reading at times

This is a good recount of BF's life up to the start of the American revolution, but the reading is garbled at times and makes it hard to understand!! The reading should be redone to be able to fully enjoy the story.

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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Constance
  • Albuquerque, NM, United States
  • 09-21-10

Slow narration

Lois Betterton, the narrator is not my cup of tea. She speaks very slowly. Her ennuciation is excruciately careful. Her reading style overall is leaden.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful