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1 Beaverton US History- Franklin, Benjamin

This title in other editions

A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America

by

A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America Cover

ISBN13: 9780805080094
ISBN10: 0805080090
Condition: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"Schiff, the author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Vera Nabokov, writes the kind of shimmering prose in which nearly every sentence contains a clever aside. She is more than equal to the task of resurrecting the brilliant, corpulent Franklin, turning this sensitive and difficult final act of his career into a thrilling story. 'It was all a great improvisation,' Schiff writes, 'He was inventing foreign policy out of whole cloth, [and] teaching himself diplomacy on the job.'" Anna Godbersen, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this dazzling work of history, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author follows Benjamin Franklin to France for the crowning achievement of his career.

"In December of 1776 a small boat delivered an old man to France." So begins an enthralling narrative account of how Benjamin Franklin — seventy years old, without any diplomatic training, and possessed of the most rudimentary French — convinced France, an absolute monarchy, to underwrite America's experiment in democracy.

When Franklin stepped onto French soil, he well understood he was embarking on the greatest gamble of his career. By virtue of fame, charisma, and ingenuity, Franklin outmaneuvered British spies, French informers, and hostile colleagues; engineered the Franco-American alliance of l778; and helped to negotiate the peace of l783. The eight-year French mission stands not only as Franklin's most vital service to his country but as the most revealing of the man.

In A Great Improvisation, Stacy Schiff draws from new and little-known sources to illuminate the least-explored part of Franklin's life. Here is an unfamiliar, unforgettable chapter of the Revolution, a rousing tale of American infighting, and the treacherous backroom dealings at Versailles that would propel George Washington from near decimation at Valley Forge to victory at Yorktown. From these pages emerge a particularly human and yet fiercely determined Founding Father, as well as a profound sense of how fragile, improvisational, and international was our country's bid for independence.

Review:

"Numerous bestselling volumes have been written recently on the man one biography called 'the first American.' Pulitzer Prize-winner Schiff (for Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov)) eloquently adds to our understanding of Benjamin Franklin with a graceful, sly and smart look at his seven-year sojourn in France in his quasi-secret quest to secure American independence by procuring an alliance with the French. Drawing on newly available sources, Schiff brilliantly chronicles the international intrigues and the political backbiting that surrounded Franklin during his mission. 'A master of the oblique approach, a dabbler in shades of gray,' she writes, 'Franklin was a natural diplomat, genial and ruthless.' She deftly recreates the glittering and gossipy late 18th-century Paris in which Franklin moved, and she brings to life such enigmatic French leaders as Jacques-Donatien Chaumont, Franklin's closest adviser and chief supplier of American aid, and Charles Vergennes, the French minister of foreign affairs, who helped Franklin write the French-American Alliance of 1778. Franklin also negotiated the peace of 1783 that led not only to the independence of the colonies from Britain but also to a bond between France and America that, Schiff says, lasted until WWII. Schiff's sure-handed historical research and her majestic prose offer glimpses into a little-explored chapter of Franklin's life and American history. Agent, Lois Wallace. (Apr. 2)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Stunning...a remarkably subtle and penetrating portrait of Franklin and his diplomacy." The New York Review of Books

Review:

"Engaging...An entertaining story, bringing alive a cast of colorful characters, strange plot twists and bizarre anecdotes, which sometimes reads like a movie script replete with intrigues, ultimatums, swindles and vendettas." The Washington Post Book World

Review:

"This is a book to savor. Every page has some new nugget of insight. Schiff has given a genuine jolt to the recent surge of interest in Franklin, along the way demonstrating why she is generally regarded as one of the most gifted storytellers writing today." Joseph J. Ellis, author of Founding Brothers and His Excellency: George Washington

Review:

"This meticulously researched account captures a key moment in [Franklin's] history, and in ours, with verve, élan, and wit." The New Yorker

Review:

"Schiff has such command of tempo that she sends shivers down a reader's spine..." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"This is an outstanding chronicle of an American icon peforming perhaps his greatest service to his country." Booklist

Review:

"Here's breaking news for the Francophobic freedom-fries set: without France, there would have been no United States....A lively, well-written, and most timely study of diplomacy in action." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"In sparkling prose, burnished to a high gloss, Stacy Schiff tells the tale of Benjamin Franklin in Paris with piquant humor, outrageous anecdotes worthy of the finest French farce, and a wealth of lapidary observations. Her Paris unfolds as a glittering carnival of spies, rogues, frauds, and flawed reformers, eccentric nobility and perpetually squabbling American diplomats. Towering above all is the protean figure of Franklin, an improbable compound of wit, cunning, hypocrisy, courage, and tireless devotion to his country. C'est magnifique!" Ron Chernow, author of Alexander Hamilton

Review:

"This is a book to savor. Every page has some new nugget of insight, or some graceful turn of phrase that generates a verbal airburst over the most psychologically agile American of his time, perhaps of all time. Schiff has given a genuine jolt to the recent surge of interest in Franklin, along the way demonstrating why she is generally regarded as one of the most gifted storytellers writing today." Joseph J. Ellis, author of Founding Brothers and His Excellency: George Washington

Review:

"What a brilliant book. A Great Improvisation pays tribute to the extraordinary love affair between monarchist France and the republican Benjamin Franklin. Their child was America, conceived at home and nurtured into maturity by France. It is a story full of intrigue, jealousy and passion. But ultimately it is a celebration of one American's love for his country. Stacy Schiff has written a masterpiece, capturing a fleeting moment when the stars aligned between Congress and Versailles." Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire

Review:

"Stacy Schiff's extensive scholarship, her eye for the colorful detail, and her lively wit combine to bring alive — in full dress and in an absorbing narrative — the cast of statesmen, adventurers, spies, courtiers, patriots and con men who have a part in the story of Benjamin Franklin's negotiations for American independence, and to fix among them America's greatest diplomat, winning his way (and America's) in a style of calculated disarray. An extraordinary book." Edmund S. Morgan, author of Benjamin Franklin

Review:

"This remarkable book breaks new ground. Stacy Schiff has dug deep into the archives of France (no mean feat!) and brought up a motherlode of gems which, polished by her wit, illuminate the doublespeak of the ambassadorial world, as well as the ferocious backbiting among the colonial envoys. From this maelstrom emerges Franklin, inventing the American foreign service as he had figured out electricity, bifocals, a new stove, the glass armonica — step by cautious step." Claude-Anne Lopez, author of Mon Cher Papa: Franklin and the Ladies of Paris

Review:

"Each phrase is polished to a high gloss....The highly wrought prose grows tiresome over the course of 400 pages and makes the complicated diplomatic maneuverings Ms. Schiff describes even harder to follow." William Grimes, New York Times

Review:

"[Schiff's] research is so convincing and her feel for the subject so profound that A Great Improvisation becomes both an enjoyable narrative and the most important recent addition to original Franklin scholarship." Walter Isaacson, New York Times

Review:

"Irresistible...An artful portrait of Franklin's year in France." The Boston Globe

Synopsis:

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author follows Benjamin Franklin to France for the crowning achievement of his career, an eight-year mission that stands not only as Franklin's most vital service to his country but as the most revealing view of him during an unforgettable chapter of the Revolution.

Synopsis:

When Benjamin Franklin embarked for France in 1776, he well understood that he was taking on the greatest gamble of his career. The colonies were without money, munitions, gunpowder, or common cause; dispatched amid great secrecy, across a winter sea thick with enemy cruisers, Franklin was seventy years old, without any diplomatic training, and possessed of the most rudimentary French. His eight-year posting there serves not only as Franklin's most vital service to his country — it was in large part on account of his fame, charisma, and ingenuity that France underwrote the American Revolution, and it was Franklin who helped negotiate the peace of 1783 — but as the most revealing of the man. The French mission would prove the most inventive act in a life of astonishing inventions.

In A Great Improvisation, Pulitzer Prize winner Stacy Schiff draws from new and little-known sources to illuminate the least-explored part of Franklin's life. From these pages emerge a particularly human and yet fiercely determined Founding Father, as well as a profound sense of how fragile, improvisational, and international was our country's bid for independence.

Synopsis:

In this dazzling work of history, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author follows Benjamin Franklin to France for the crowning achievement of his career

In December of 1776 a small boat delivered an old man to France." So begins an enthralling narrative account of how Benjamin Franklin-seventy years old, without any diplomatic training, and possessed of the most rudimentary French-convinced France, an absolute monarchy, to underwrite America's experiment in democracy.

When Franklin stepped onto French soil, he well understood he was embarking on the greatest gamble of his career. By virtue of fame, charisma, and ingenuity, Franklin outmaneuvered British spies, French informers, and hostile colleagues; engineered the Franco-American alliance of l778; and helped to negotiate the peace of l783. The eight-year French mission stands not only as Franklin's most vital service to his country but as the most revealing of the man.

In A Great Improvisation, Stacy Schiff draws from new and little-known sources to illuminate the least-explored part of Franklin's life. Here is an unfamiliar, unforgettable chapter of the Revolution, a rousing tale of American infighting, and the treacherous backroom dealings at Versailles that would propel George Washington from near decimation at Valley Forge to victory at Yorktown. From these pages emerge a particularly human and yet fiercely determined Founding Father, as well as a profound sense of how fragile, improvisational, and international was our country's bid for independence.

About the Author

Stacy Schiff is the author of Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov), which won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2000, and Saint-Exupery, which was a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. She lives in New York City.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

taflin1, April 1, 2007 (view all comments by taflin1)
I got this book to read for my AP literature class, and, to be perfectly honest, unless you are a huge fan of Ben Franklin's history and have the vocabulary of an SAT test, you will NOT like this book. The people in my class could barely get past the first few pages, and they're some of the smartest kids in our school. I strongly do not recommend this book to anyone who isn't in the least bit a scholar of Ben Franklin.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780805080094
Author:
Schiff, Stacy
Publisher:
Owl Books (NY)
Subject:
Europe - France
Subject:
United States - Revolutionary War
Subject:
Political History
Subject:
International Relations - General
Subject:
United States / Revolutionary Period (1775-1800)
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
US History-Revolution and Constitution Era
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20060231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
2 8-pg insert
Pages:
528
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.50 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Foreign Policy
History and Social Science » US History » 18th Century
History and Social Science » US History » Franklin, Benjamin
History and Social Science » US History » Revolution and Constitution Era
History and Social Science » World History » France » General

A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.95 In Stock
Product details 528 pages Owl Books (NY) - English 9780805080094 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Numerous bestselling volumes have been written recently on the man one biography called 'the first American.' Pulitzer Prize-winner Schiff (for Véra (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov)) eloquently adds to our understanding of Benjamin Franklin with a graceful, sly and smart look at his seven-year sojourn in France in his quasi-secret quest to secure American independence by procuring an alliance with the French. Drawing on newly available sources, Schiff brilliantly chronicles the international intrigues and the political backbiting that surrounded Franklin during his mission. 'A master of the oblique approach, a dabbler in shades of gray,' she writes, 'Franklin was a natural diplomat, genial and ruthless.' She deftly recreates the glittering and gossipy late 18th-century Paris in which Franklin moved, and she brings to life such enigmatic French leaders as Jacques-Donatien Chaumont, Franklin's closest adviser and chief supplier of American aid, and Charles Vergennes, the French minister of foreign affairs, who helped Franklin write the French-American Alliance of 1778. Franklin also negotiated the peace of 1783 that led not only to the independence of the colonies from Britain but also to a bond between France and America that, Schiff says, lasted until WWII. Schiff's sure-handed historical research and her majestic prose offer glimpses into a little-explored chapter of Franklin's life and American history. Agent, Lois Wallace. (Apr. 2)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Schiff, the author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Vera Nabokov, writes the kind of shimmering prose in which nearly every sentence contains a clever aside. She is more than equal to the task of resurrecting the brilliant, corpulent Franklin, turning this sensitive and difficult final act of his career into a thrilling story. 'It was all a great improvisation,' Schiff writes, 'He was inventing foreign policy out of whole cloth, [and] teaching himself diplomacy on the job.'" (read the entire Esquire review)
"Review" by , "Stunning...a remarkably subtle and penetrating portrait of Franklin and his diplomacy."
"Review" by , "Engaging...An entertaining story, bringing alive a cast of colorful characters, strange plot twists and bizarre anecdotes, which sometimes reads like a movie script replete with intrigues, ultimatums, swindles and vendettas."
"Review" by , "This is a book to savor. Every page has some new nugget of insight. Schiff has given a genuine jolt to the recent surge of interest in Franklin, along the way demonstrating why she is generally regarded as one of the most gifted storytellers writing today."
"Review" by , "This meticulously researched account captures a key moment in [Franklin's] history, and in ours, with verve, élan, and wit."
"Review" by , "Schiff has such command of tempo that she sends shivers down a reader's spine..."
"Review" by , "This is an outstanding chronicle of an American icon peforming perhaps his greatest service to his country."
"Review" by , "Here's breaking news for the Francophobic freedom-fries set: without France, there would have been no United States....A lively, well-written, and most timely study of diplomacy in action."
"Review" by , "In sparkling prose, burnished to a high gloss, Stacy Schiff tells the tale of Benjamin Franklin in Paris with piquant humor, outrageous anecdotes worthy of the finest French farce, and a wealth of lapidary observations. Her Paris unfolds as a glittering carnival of spies, rogues, frauds, and flawed reformers, eccentric nobility and perpetually squabbling American diplomats. Towering above all is the protean figure of Franklin, an improbable compound of wit, cunning, hypocrisy, courage, and tireless devotion to his country. C'est magnifique!"
"Review" by , "This is a book to savor. Every page has some new nugget of insight, or some graceful turn of phrase that generates a verbal airburst over the most psychologically agile American of his time, perhaps of all time. Schiff has given a genuine jolt to the recent surge of interest in Franklin, along the way demonstrating why she is generally regarded as one of the most gifted storytellers writing today."
"Review" by , "What a brilliant book. A Great Improvisation pays tribute to the extraordinary love affair between monarchist France and the republican Benjamin Franklin. Their child was America, conceived at home and nurtured into maturity by France. It is a story full of intrigue, jealousy and passion. But ultimately it is a celebration of one American's love for his country. Stacy Schiff has written a masterpiece, capturing a fleeting moment when the stars aligned between Congress and Versailles."
"Review" by , "Stacy Schiff's extensive scholarship, her eye for the colorful detail, and her lively wit combine to bring alive — in full dress and in an absorbing narrative — the cast of statesmen, adventurers, spies, courtiers, patriots and con men who have a part in the story of Benjamin Franklin's negotiations for American independence, and to fix among them America's greatest diplomat, winning his way (and America's) in a style of calculated disarray. An extraordinary book."
"Review" by , "This remarkable book breaks new ground. Stacy Schiff has dug deep into the archives of France (no mean feat!) and brought up a motherlode of gems which, polished by her wit, illuminate the doublespeak of the ambassadorial world, as well as the ferocious backbiting among the colonial envoys. From this maelstrom emerges Franklin, inventing the American foreign service as he had figured out electricity, bifocals, a new stove, the glass armonica — step by cautious step."
"Review" by , "Each phrase is polished to a high gloss....The highly wrought prose grows tiresome over the course of 400 pages and makes the complicated diplomatic maneuverings Ms. Schiff describes even harder to follow."
"Review" by , "[Schiff's] research is so convincing and her feel for the subject so profound that A Great Improvisation becomes both an enjoyable narrative and the most important recent addition to original Franklin scholarship."
"Review" by , "Irresistible...An artful portrait of Franklin's year in France."
"Synopsis" by , The Pulitzer Prize-winning author follows Benjamin Franklin to France for the crowning achievement of his career, an eight-year mission that stands not only as Franklin's most vital service to his country but as the most revealing view of him during an unforgettable chapter of the Revolution.
"Synopsis" by , When Benjamin Franklin embarked for France in 1776, he well understood that he was taking on the greatest gamble of his career. The colonies were without money, munitions, gunpowder, or common cause; dispatched amid great secrecy, across a winter sea thick with enemy cruisers, Franklin was seventy years old, without any diplomatic training, and possessed of the most rudimentary French. His eight-year posting there serves not only as Franklin's most vital service to his country — it was in large part on account of his fame, charisma, and ingenuity that France underwrote the American Revolution, and it was Franklin who helped negotiate the peace of 1783 — but as the most revealing of the man. The French mission would prove the most inventive act in a life of astonishing inventions.

In A Great Improvisation, Pulitzer Prize winner Stacy Schiff draws from new and little-known sources to illuminate the least-explored part of Franklin's life. From these pages emerge a particularly human and yet fiercely determined Founding Father, as well as a profound sense of how fragile, improvisational, and international was our country's bid for independence.

"Synopsis" by ,
In this dazzling work of history, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author follows Benjamin Franklin to France for the crowning achievement of his career

In December of 1776 a small boat delivered an old man to France." So begins an enthralling narrative account of how Benjamin Franklin-seventy years old, without any diplomatic training, and possessed of the most rudimentary French-convinced France, an absolute monarchy, to underwrite America's experiment in democracy.

When Franklin stepped onto French soil, he well understood he was embarking on the greatest gamble of his career. By virtue of fame, charisma, and ingenuity, Franklin outmaneuvered British spies, French informers, and hostile colleagues; engineered the Franco-American alliance of l778; and helped to negotiate the peace of l783. The eight-year French mission stands not only as Franklin's most vital service to his country but as the most revealing of the man.

In A Great Improvisation, Stacy Schiff draws from new and little-known sources to illuminate the least-explored part of Franklin's life. Here is an unfamiliar, unforgettable chapter of the Revolution, a rousing tale of American infighting, and the treacherous backroom dealings at Versailles that would propel George Washington from near decimation at Valley Forge to victory at Yorktown. From these pages emerge a particularly human and yet fiercely determined Founding Father, as well as a profound sense of how fragile, improvisational, and international was our country's bid for independence.

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