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Benjamin Franklin, writes journalist and biographer Walter Isaacson, was that rare Founding Father who would sooner wink at a passer-by than sit still for a formal portrait. What's more, Isaacson relates in this fluent and entertaining biography, the revolutionary leader represents a political tradition that has been all but forgotten today, one that prizes pragmatism over moralism, religious tolerance over fundamentalist rigidity, and social mobility over class privilege. That broadly democratic sensibility allowed Franklin his contradictions, as Isaacson shows. Though a man of lofty principles, Franklin wasn't shy of using sex to sell the newspapers he edited and published; though far from frivolous, he liked his toys and his mortal pleasures; and though he sometimes gave off a simpleton image, he was a shrewd and even crafty politician. Isaacson doesn't shy from enumerating Franklins occasional peccadilloes and shortcomings, in keeping with the iconoclastic nature of our time--none of which, however, stops him from considering Benjamin Franklin "the most accomplished American of his age," and one of the most admirable of any era. And heres one bit of proof: as a young man, Ben Franklin regularly went without food in order to buy books. His example, as always, is a good one--and this is just the book to buy with the proceeds from the grocery budget. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Most people's mental image of Ben Franklin is that of an aged man with wire-rim glasses and a comb-over, flying a kite in a thunder storm, or of the spirited face that stares back from a one-hundred-dollar bill. Isaacson's (Kissinger) biography does much to remind us of Franklin's amazing depth and breadth. At once a scientist, craftsman, writer, publisher, comic, sage, ladies' man, statesman, diplomat and inventor, Franklin not only wore many hats, but in many cases, did not have an equal. The most intriguing thing he invented, and continued to reinvent, according to Isaacson, was himself. Three-time Tony winner Gaines has an obvious interest and affinity for the material. His delivery of Isaacson's factual yet fascinating biography is informative and friendly with an instructional yet casual tone, like that of a gregarious narrator of an educational film. All things considered, Gaines is a good match for the material. He has the authority to deliver historical facts and the enthusiasm to keep listeners interested.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A wonderful biography on a very unique individual; a businessman, expert networker, an entrepreneur, a true American patriot... Read morePublished 5 months ago by James DiCenzo
Incredible book,incredible man and incredible writer.
It reads so fast and interesting.
During reading I became so much more productive myself as
Franklin would make... Read more
Let me first start off by saying that I have read few biographies. But Isaacson made a biography that is both readable and balanced between Franklin's personal and professional... Read morePublished on July 18 2004 by Sheila Tillman
As a direct descendant of Simon Meredith (1663-1745), father of Hugh Meredith, Benjamin Franklin's erstwhile business partner in Philadelphia, I looked forward with great interest... Read morePublished on July 11 2004 by Thomas L. Markey
Isaacson's writing style impressed me for a short time, but he becomes rather pedantic quickly, dwelling on seemingly minor points for long periods until you just can't take any... Read morePublished on June 27 2004
The biographies about old Ben Franklin, both juvenile and scholarly, would fill several bookshelves. Read morePublished on June 12 2004 by C. Middleton