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Young Benjamin Franklin

The Birth of Ingenuity
Narrated by: Dan Woren
Length: 17 hrs and 18 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (12 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In this new account of Franklin's early life, Pulitzer finalist Nick Bunker portrays him as a complex, driven young man who elbows his way to success.

From his early career as a printer and journalist to his scientific work and his role as a founder of a new republic, Benjamin Franklin has always seemed the inevitable embodiment of American ingenuity. But in his youth, he had to make his way through a harsh colonial world, where he fought many battles with his rivals, but also with his wayward emotions. Taking Franklin to the age of 41, when he made his first electrical discoveries, Bunker goes behind the legend to reveal the sources of his passion for knowledge. Always trying to balance virtue against ambition, Franklin emerges as a brilliant but flawed human being, made from the conflicts of an age of slavery as well as reason. 

With archival material from both sides of the Atlantic, we see Franklin in Boston, London, and Philadelphia as he develops his formula for greatness. A tale of science, politics, war, and religion, this is also a story about Franklin's forebears: the talented family of English craftsmen who produced America's favorite genius. 

©2018 Nick Bunker (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"[A] vibrant, perspicacious, and well-researched portrait of a man hungry for knowledge and ambitious for financial success.... Bunker adroitly describes Franklin's involvement in the religious and political controversies of the day, including slavery, as well as in the scientific projects for which he became renowned. An engaging, illuminating biography of a captivating figure." (Kirkus, starred review) 

"Nick Bunker again provides an unusual look at American history with this accessible and riveting account of the ancestry and early life of Ben Franklin. Bunker’s diligent research and reconstruction of events from myriad sources were necessitated by Franklin’s own misleading writings.... The result is a deep, nuanced examination of the formative influences on an iconic American figure." (Publishers Weekly, starred Review)  

"Bunker re-creates a life of restless ambition as he recounts how Benjamin Franklin finds in Philadelphia the opportunity he has been seeking for deploying the printing expertise and rhetorical skills he acquired while coming-of-age in Boston.... [A] nuanced portrait of the young Franklin captures the fugitive genius of a quintessential American." (Booklist, starred review)  

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Engaging, informative, inspiring

I had recently read a long textbook history of colonial America and this biography put in vivid details. Extremely well-written and paced.