The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Paperback – Jun 7 1996
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"The introduction is full of valuable and necessary historical and biographical information as well as good, sound interpretation." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From the Back Cover
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."
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Got off to a slow start but eventually picked up about 1/3 of the way along. An amazing man who wrote in the english of his time and who lived a life guided by vision and... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Rudy Cooper
This book gives one a great insight into the life of Benjamin Franklin. I would suggest this book to all who are interested in history.Published 5 months ago by Sieg
This is a great book. I love it. A must-read for anyone who likes autobiographies, world history, US history or business. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Tree Ponders Leaf
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