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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – Print, June 7, 1996

ISBN-13: 858-1000011187 ISBN-10: 0486290735 Edition: New edition

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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; New edition edition (June 7, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486290735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486290737
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.2 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (639 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

''Franklin's is one of the greatest autobiographies in literature, and towers over other autobiographies as Franklin towered over other men.'' --William Dean Howells

''The most widely read autobiography ever written by an American. It has served many Americans as it may have served Franklin - to define what it meant, what it had meant, and what it ought to mean to be an American.'' --Edmund S. Morgan, emeritus professor of history, Yale University --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From the Publisher

Also available by Edmund S. Morgan: Benjamin Franklin --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

This is a great life story of this great man.
M. Schnackenberg
Much of the book's charm comes from it's very clear use of language and subtle humor, which is difficult to capture without a great deal of direct quotation.
M. J. Martin
Stepping back, if one can, seeing it through the eyes of a person living with so much happening even globally makes for a good rainy evening read.
Just_a_Citizen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

599 of 608 people found the following review helpful By T. S. VINE VOICE on September 25, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's a little presumptuous to write a "review" of a book as historically important as this, so I'll just give a few reasons why you should read it.

It's well-written and engaging, even 200+ (nearing 300+; Franklin was born in 1706) years later. It stops in 1760, well before his involvement with the Revolution, but it covers in detail his youth, apprenticeships, the formation of his philosophy and ideals, and his path from poor roots to business and social success -- the first telling of the American Dream, the idea that a poor young man could Find His Fortune in the New World through enterprise, wisdom, and work.

There is a high degree of self-hagiography here, and it would be amusing to tally up (for example) how many times Franklin praises himself vs. how many times he advises on the virtue of humility. He smooths over controversial topics like his illegitimate son, he doesn't mention his membership in the Freemasons, etc. The construction is also a bit rambling ("Then I did this thing. Next, I did another thing. Then I did a third thing"), but Franklin simply did so many interesting things -- even in this short slice of his life -- that the book is interesting despite that. There's a great deal of discussion on his scientific and inventive accomplishments, and he talks at length about his development of his own personal moral code and how he achieved business success (along with Franklin's Personal Method You Can Use for Self-Improvement -- in some ways, this is the first self-help book!)

All in all, this is very much worth reading, and gives a compelling picture of Franklin's life and times.
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176 of 181 people found the following review helpful By Paul J. Heckman, Jr. on April 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
This "Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin" does not contain the type of finished material one has come to expect in a finished coherent autobiographical writing covering the whole life span of the individual written by single author over a continuous period of time. This is really source material partially written over distinctly separate periods of time wherein the author, Benjamin Franklin, wrote on two different continents without access to the other parts of his text. With that said, I still think that this book is a wonderful and enlightening piece of work. It should, in my opinion, be considered for placement in every high school and college library, and it should perhaps be wise to consider it for required reading in those institutions. The book tells of the life and times in which Mr. Franklin lived, the attitudes of the colonists and of the British and the ways that things were accomplished in colonial America. It is truly amazing to me to hear first hand how a single individual with only two years of formal education can educate himself as this man did and to rise to make such truly great contributions to society, science, engineering, and politics. I highly recommend this book.
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125 of 129 people found the following review helpful By john purcell on November 16, 2003
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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118 of 124 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 17, 2000
Format: Paperback
The book is divided into four parts, and is ultimately unfinished; that is the largest disappointment you will find as you read the last sentance. However, the book gives you a true feel for the life and times this great man lived through. The writing is very arbitrary, almost (but not quite) stream-of-conscious, and anecdotal, but enjoyable. Another disappointment is the lack of discussion of the American Revolution and his role in it. But it did give me the desire to read more of this amazing individual, and renewed my sense of pride in my country, as well as its interesting history. Read this book as a beginning, with expectations of it taking your mind to a different level of interest...
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