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.