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The First American: The Life and times of Benjamin Franklinby H.W. Brands
Synopses & Reviews
In the first comprehensive biography of Benjamin Franklin in over sixty years, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands brings vividly to life one of the most delightful, bawdy, brilliant, original, and important figures in American history.
Now, in a researched account of Franklin's life and times, his clever repartee, generous spirit, and earthy wisdom are brought compellingly to the page. His circle of friends and acquaintances extended around the globe, from Cotton Mather to Voltaire, from Edmund Burke to King George III, from Sir Isaac Newton to Immanuel Kant. Franklin was gifted with a restless curiosity, and his scientific experiments with electric currents and the weather made him the leading pioneer in the new field of electricity on both sides of the Atlantic. From his humble beginnings in Boston as a printer's apprentice, he became, within two decades, the leading printer and one of the most important businessmen in the Colonies.
Drawing on previously unpublished letters to and from Franklin, as well as the recollections and anecdotes of Franklin's contemporaries, H. W. Brands has created a portrait of the eighteenth-century genius who was in every respect America's first Renaissance man, and arguably the pivotal figure in colonial and revolutionary America.
"Brands does an excellent job of capturing Franklin's exuberant versatility as a writer who adopted countless personae....[W]ith admirable insight and arresting narrative, [Brands] constructs a portrait of a complex and influential man...in a highly charged world." Publishers Weekly
He was the foremost American of his day, yet today he is little more than a mythic caricature in the public imagination. Benjamin Franklin, perhaps the pivotal figure in colonial and revolutionary America, comes vividly to life in this masterly biography.
Wit, diplomat, scientist, philosopher, businessman, inventor, and bon vivant, Benjamin Franklin was in every respect America’s first Renaissance man. From penniless runaway to highly successful printer, from ardently loyal subject of Britain to architect of an alliance with France that ensured America’s independence, Franklin went from obscurity to become one of the world’s most admired figures, whose circle included the likes of Voltaire, Hume, Burke, and Kant. Drawing on previously unpublished letters and a host of other sources, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands has written a thoroughly engaging biography of the eighteenth-century genius. A much needed reminder of Franklin’s greatness and humanity, The First American is a work of meticulous scholarship that provides a magnificent tour of a legendary historical figure, a vital era in American life, and the countless arenas in which the protean Franklin left his legacy.
About the Author
H. W. Brands is Distinguished Professor of History at Texas A&M University. He lives in Austin, Texas.
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History and Social Science » US History » Colonial America
History and Social Science » US History » Franklin, Benjamin