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In this authoritative and engrossing full-scale biography, Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of Einstein and Steve Jobs, shows how the most fascinating of America's founders helped define our national character.

Benjamin Franklin is the founding father who winks at us, the one who seems made of flesh rather than marble. In a sweeping narrative that follows Franklin’s life from Boston to Philadelphia to London and Paris and back, Walter Isaacson chronicles the adventures of the runaway apprentice who became, over the course of his eighty-four-year life, America’s best writer, inventor, media baron, scientist, diplomat, and business strategist, as well as one of its most practical and ingenious political leaders. He explores the wit behind Poor Richard’s Almanac and the wisdom behind the Declaration of Independence, the new nation’s alliance with France, the treaty that ended the Revolution, and the compromises that created a near-perfect Constitution.

In this colorful and intimate narrative, Isaacson provides the full sweep of Franklin’s amazing life, showing how he helped to forge the American national identity and why he has a particular resonance in the twenty-first century.

Topics: United States of America, Philadelphia, American Revolutionary Period, Founding Fathers, American History, American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin, Politics, Leadership, Innovation, Diplomacy, and Informative

Published: Simon & Schuster on
ISBN: 9780743260848
List price: $16.99
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This was a pleasure and just the kind of biography I find trustworthy. The kind that acknowledges other views and controversies and with extensive notes and sources in the back. More than that, it's the rare biography that can inspire smiles and even giggles--I'd mark this up to five stars if I could credit Isaacson for that--but the source of the humor is the frequent quotes from Benjamin Franklin himself. Isaacson said in his introduction that "Benjamin Franklin is the Founding Father who winks at us" and that proved to be so--his pragmatism and humor is the keynote to his character. Before reading this, if someone asked me which Founding Father I'd chose to have dinner and conversation with I think I would have chosen Jefferson. After this it's hard not to name Franklin as a favorite and the one with the most winning personality--at least if you weren't married to him. Or one of his children.Franklin has his faults, goodness knows, and Isaacson doesn't gloss over them, but they just make him all the more poignantly human. I've heard it said that the Revolutionary War was really a civil war given how the lines between Patriots versus Loyalists cut through families. Of all the Founding Fathers, the cut was sharpest with Benjamin Franklin--his own son was the King's Governor of New Jersey and chose the opposing side. I did know that before reading this biography but there was plenty I didn't know--for instance that this man so identified with Philadelphia was born and grew up in Boston and spent so many years in England as well as Paris. Isaacson, who wrote biographies of Einstein and Steve Jobs, does justice to not just Franklin the statesman but the inventor and scientist as well. And throughout and especially in his epilogue gives us not just an assessment of the man but the biography of how he was received by others such as Sinclair Lewis, D.H. Lawrence and John Updike. An engaging and lively biography.more
I think we all grow up hearing, reading and being told about the founding fathers but rarely do any of us really read about them as individuals. Every time I do I’m amazed at what I read and how far ahead of their time they really were. Benjamin Franklin epitomizes this; printer, scientist, inventor, diplomat, politician and above it all human. This book gets into some of that nitty-gritty; the women, the ruthless businessman, more women, questionable husband and father. The author does an amazing job walking us through Franklin’s life and showing us the brilliance of the man and the fallibility at the same time.Wonderful read and would recommend it to everyone – just be prepared to devote some time to it.more
A balanced portrayal of a complex and extraordinary man.more
A good first book to start an extended study of Franklin.more
Read all 28 reviews

Reviews

This was a pleasure and just the kind of biography I find trustworthy. The kind that acknowledges other views and controversies and with extensive notes and sources in the back. More than that, it's the rare biography that can inspire smiles and even giggles--I'd mark this up to five stars if I could credit Isaacson for that--but the source of the humor is the frequent quotes from Benjamin Franklin himself. Isaacson said in his introduction that "Benjamin Franklin is the Founding Father who winks at us" and that proved to be so--his pragmatism and humor is the keynote to his character. Before reading this, if someone asked me which Founding Father I'd chose to have dinner and conversation with I think I would have chosen Jefferson. After this it's hard not to name Franklin as a favorite and the one with the most winning personality--at least if you weren't married to him. Or one of his children.Franklin has his faults, goodness knows, and Isaacson doesn't gloss over them, but they just make him all the more poignantly human. I've heard it said that the Revolutionary War was really a civil war given how the lines between Patriots versus Loyalists cut through families. Of all the Founding Fathers, the cut was sharpest with Benjamin Franklin--his own son was the King's Governor of New Jersey and chose the opposing side. I did know that before reading this biography but there was plenty I didn't know--for instance that this man so identified with Philadelphia was born and grew up in Boston and spent so many years in England as well as Paris. Isaacson, who wrote biographies of Einstein and Steve Jobs, does justice to not just Franklin the statesman but the inventor and scientist as well. And throughout and especially in his epilogue gives us not just an assessment of the man but the biography of how he was received by others such as Sinclair Lewis, D.H. Lawrence and John Updike. An engaging and lively biography.more
I think we all grow up hearing, reading and being told about the founding fathers but rarely do any of us really read about them as individuals. Every time I do I’m amazed at what I read and how far ahead of their time they really were. Benjamin Franklin epitomizes this; printer, scientist, inventor, diplomat, politician and above it all human. This book gets into some of that nitty-gritty; the women, the ruthless businessman, more women, questionable husband and father. The author does an amazing job walking us through Franklin’s life and showing us the brilliance of the man and the fallibility at the same time.Wonderful read and would recommend it to everyone – just be prepared to devote some time to it.more
A balanced portrayal of a complex and extraordinary man.more
A good first book to start an extended study of Franklin.more
Truly enjoyed this one. you get a genuine sense of Franklin's eccentic nature, and spirit of adventure. Inventor, and diplomat, as well as postmaster. Enjouyed learning about his strained relationship with his bastard son, who becam governor of New Jeresey, and becasue of his son's loyalist stance, their relationshipo remained strained.more
I thought Walter Isaacson’s bio of Benjamin Franklin to be a fascinating read into this outstanding patriot. I always believed that Franklin was one of the cornerstones in the founding of our great nation. Mr. Isaacson does an excellent job of bringing out Franklin’s achievements both in the personal and political arena. It’s a great bio and if want to know about this patriot then I highly recommend this book.more
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