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The Autobiography of Ben Franklin [Hardcover]

Benjamin Franklin
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 1 2010 1617430056 978-1617430053
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is considered one of the most famous and popular works in American literature. It has been said to be the first American book to be taken seriously by Europeans as a literary work. The work is a delightful self-portrait that has been translated into most every language. The work covers Franklin's life up to his prewar stay in London as representative of the Pennsylvania Assembly, including his childhood years, occupation as a printer, experiments with electricity, political career, as well as an accumulation of many more subjects. Franklin's account of his life is separated into four parts, reflecting upon the various periods during which he wrote them.

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"The best and most beautiful edition [of the Autobiography]." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

Blessed with enormous talents and the energy and ambition to go with them, Franklin was a statesman, author, inventor, printer, and scientist. He helped draft the Declaration of Independence and later was involved in negotiating the peace treaty with Britain that ended the Revolutionary War. He also invented bifocals, a stove that is still manufactured, a water-harmonica, and the lightning rod.
Franklin's extraordinary range of interests and accomplishments are brilliantly recorded in his Autobiography, considered one of the classics of the genre. Covering his life up to his prewar stay in London as representative of the Pennsylvania Assembly, this charming self-portrait recalls Franklin's boyhood, his determination to achieve high moral standards, his work as a printer, experiments with electricity, political career, experiences during the French and Indian War, and more. Related in an honest, open, unaffected style, this highly readable account offers a wonderfully intimate glimpse of the Founding Father sometimes called "the wisest American."
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A window into the mind of a remarkable American Nov. 8 2001
Format:Paperback
When I was a boy, my father told me to read the "Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin." Of course, I didn't listen to Dad but now, decades later, I have finally read it. This book is not a comprehensive memoir of the historical events that made him famous. Indeed, the book ends when he is in his early 50s, long before his activities in the Continental Congress, as delegate to the constitutional convention, and as Minister to France. What this book does is to give us the flavor of this remarkable man's personality.
The first part of this book was really letters to his son and the latter part continued the narrative. He writes with a subtle humor that at times had me in stitches. He writes about his scientific achievements and inventions such as what has become known as the "Franklin stove," and his experiments with electricity. Evidentally, there were some in the scientific community who did not believe that lightening was electricity and he took delight in proving them wrong (he very briefly mentions his kite experiment).
He writes about virtues and his cultivation of them. He reflects upon religion yet he was not dogmatic. He was civic minded, starting, among other things, a fire department and a public library. In short, he was a reflective, intelligent, industrious, remarkable man and we realize this best by reading his own words. My father was right; I should have read this years ago.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Read as a companion to Isaacson Aug. 9 2003
Format:Paperback
Ten years ago, I purchased the paperback and could not get past the first few chapters. Five years ago, I bought the cassette version and could not get much further. After finishing and enjoying Walter Isaacson's Franklin bio immediately prior to this third attempt, I was finally able to enjoy "The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin". Fredd Wayne brings Franklin to life with what seems like a perfect portrayal. He *performs* rather than narrates.
Without the insight from Issacson, or, I suspect, from any decent biography of Franklin, the autobiography is disjointed, as he wrote different sections at different times of his life, and some time periods are eliminated completely. And it seems to have multiple personalities, struggling between the subjects of self-help, biography, history and simple meanderings and ruminations of an old man.
As a companion book - 5 stars; as a standalone - 2-3 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Franklin wrote this autobiography as a letter of instruction in the ways of the world to his youthful and illegitimate son of 40. It only covers the first half or so of his incredible life, so the things that really made him well-known are not covered, but there is plenty here anyway.
Franklin recounts his family's modest life in England and the circumstances that brought them to Boston. He was among the youngest of a very large family, ultimately finding his way to Philadelphia to find work as a printer when an apprenticeship with an older brother turned sour.
We always think of Franklin as being a slightly older statesman among the Founding Fathers, when in fact he was a full generation older than Washington or Jefferson. Unlike popular perception, he was an athletic and vibrant youth, who rescued a drowning Dutch companion and taught swimming to children of London's elite.
Philadelphia in the 1720's and 1730's was a small town, never sure if it would really take off as a settlement. Franklin quickly befriended key politicians who felt Philadelphia had grown sufficiently to have a world-class print shop. He played a key role in the town's development, leading civic groups in establishing libraries, fire companies, meeting halls, and street cleaning services. Of course, he was also the consummate politician, serving in office, and networking his way to his first fortune by publishing government documents and printing the first paper currency. He also had a knack for working with the several important religious sects of that time and place, especially the pacifist Quakers, even though Franklin was a deist.
Franklin was a clever businessman.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended high school history June 17 2003
Format:Paperback
Benjamin Franklin is regarded as one of the finest minds of colonial America. Franklin explored many interests, allowing him to play many roles during his lifetime (as P.M. Zall states): "inventor, scientist, entrepreneur, political activist, statesman, diplomat, cultural gurr, social revolutionist." However, until his death, Franklin thought of himself as merely a printer and a writer. In his Autobiography, he recounts much of his life, beginning with his genealogy and ending unfinished at a point prior to the Revolutionary War.
Essentially, Ben Franklin's Autobiography contains "unstructured" structure, in which the narrative meanders along different episodes of Franklin's life. The division of the Autobiography into four Parts, solely a modern addition by critics, is not extremely helpful in partitioning the events in the book into easily understandable parts for the reader. What the reader sees are blocks of text occaisionally separated by poetic or witty verses Franklin has included, an obstacle that sometimes allows the experience of reading the Autobiography to be monotonous. The content, and by association, the themes, are somewhat obscured to modern readers by the structure of the book as well as Franklin's language. However, the organization of the book is not completely ineffective for the reason that it lends to the reader's understanding of four different mindsets of Benjamin Franklin, allowing for a more multifaceted understanding of Franklin himself. All four of these mindsets contain similar themes of acheiving the American Dream and becoming a better person with age.
While Franklin's Autobiography has high historic value, its other value is the documented story about the man behind the myth.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Replacement for another edition I gave a friend.
Small print is harder to read than the original copy I had but the cover presumably an authentic reproductioin in colour of the author's featrures, and it add to its charm..
Published 3 months ago by Michel Masson
5.0 out of 5 stars What a decent sounding guy Ben was
Love how he always thought so well of his friends. A lovely peaceful trip back in time. Would definitely recommend.
Published 6 months ago by Laura Tsingos
4.0 out of 5 stars A man's -man of History
He had an amazing Grasp of knowledge that mattered for his time of life. His idea of Men's get-to-gethers to talk about certain subjects and possibly some books of his time were... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Roy Clark
5.0 out of 5 stars great
Fsrom the first to the last sentence this littel book is full of humor ,optimism, fascinating facts and the great soul and mind of Franklin is vivid. Read more
Published on July 26 2012 by Jean Desmeiles
3.0 out of 5 stars A Book Of Firsts
Said to be the first work of American literature, by America's first citizen: Ben Franklin's autobiography has certainly drawn a lot of praise. Read more
Published on June 29 2004 by GEORGE R. FISHER
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating look into the character of "One of a Kind"
I believe that this book is considered a classic of its type. Dr. Franklin tells his story up to 1771, and a most unusual story it is. Read more
Published on June 12 2003 by William L. Gilstrap
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Advice and Ideas
Franklin's timeless words echo through the centuries in this wonderful autobiography. In its pages we can catch a glimpse of Franklins extraordinarily beautiful mind, his wit, and... Read more
Published on April 25 2003 by John Downing
5.0 out of 5 stars Franklin's life as the prototype of the American character
The prevailing conception of the American character found its apotheosis in the persona of Benjamin Franklin. Read more
Published on Nov. 8 2002 by Lawrance M. Bernabo
4.0 out of 5 stars You won't find the revolutionary Franklin here.
This is a autobiography of his early years. He actually finished the second half of it thirty years later when he claims he has enough time & before he became too old. Read more
Published on Aug. 16 2002 by JOHN GODFREY
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!!!
I have read this book several times, and I consider it a must read. His outlook/approach on life was simply amazing and I was particularly impressed with his creation of the... Read more
Published on April 22 2002 by Tom Gambill
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