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Benjamin Franklin: An American Lifeby Walter Isaacson
Synopses & Reviews
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 bestselling 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 twenty-first century.
"Isaacson...has a keen eye for the genius of a man whose fingerprints lie everywhere in our history. The oldest, most distinctive and multifaceted of the founders, Franklin remains as mysterious as Jefferson." Publishers Weekly
"[Franklin] remains an ideal American type — and one well served by this sympathetic and admiring study....a solid contribution to Frankliniana." Kirkus Reviews
"[A]n admirable work that takes its place among recently acclaimed biographies by H.W. Brands and Edmund Morgan as one with special appeal to a general audience." Library Journal
"Isaacson has crafted a wonderfully written biography, and his treatment of Franklin's youth and rise to prominence is insightful and imaginative." John Ferling, The Washington Post
This sweeping narrative chronicles the adventures of the spunky runaway apprentice who became, during his 84-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.
Benjamin Franklin is the founding father who winks at us, the one who seems made of flesh rather than marble. In this authoritative and engrossing full-scale biography, Walter Isaacson shows how the most fascinating of America's founders helped define our national character. andlt;BRandgt; In a sweeping narrative that follows Franklin's life from Boston to Philadelphia to London and Paris and back, Isaacson chronicles the adventures of the spunky runaway apprentice who became, during his 84-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 andlt;Iandgt;Poor Richard's Almanacandlt;/Iandgt; 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. andlt;BRandgt; Above all, Isaacson shows how Franklin's unwavering faith in the wisdom of the common citizen and his instinctive appreciation for the possibilities of democracy helped to forge an American national identity based on the virtues and values of its middle class.
About the Author
Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, has been chairman of CNN and the managing editor of andlt;iandgt;Timeandlt;/iandgt; magazine. He is the author of andlt;Iandgt;Steve Jobsandlt;/Iandgt;; andlt;Iandgt;Einstein: His Life and Universeandlt;/Iandgt;; andlt;iandgt;Benjamin Franklin: An American Lifeandlt;/iandgt;; and andlt;iandgt;Kissinger: A Biographyandlt;/iandgt;, and the coauthor of andlt;iandgt;The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Madeandlt;/iandgt;. He lives in Washington, DC.
Table of Contents
Benjamin Franklin and the Invention of America
Pilgrim's Progress: Boston, 1706-1723
Journeyman: Philadelphia and London, 1723-1726
Printer: Philadelphia, 1726-1732
Public Citizen: Philadelphia, 1731-1748
Scientist and Inventor: Philadelphia, 1744-1751
Politician: Philadelphia, 1749-1756
Troubled Waters: London, 1757-1762
Home Leave: Philadelphia, 1763-1764
Agent Provocateur: London, 1765-1770
Rebel: London, 1771-1775
Independence: Philadelphia, 1775-1776
Courtier: Paris, 1776-1778
Bon Vivant: Paris, 1778-1785
Peacemaker: Paris, 1778-1785
Sage: Philadelphia, 1785-1790
Cast of Characters
Sources and Abbreviations
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Biography » Historical