48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2005
The subtitle, "Franklin's Autobiography for Modern Times," is a more accurate description of this breakthrough work. It is a modern translation of the most famous memoir ever written. As an historian and Franklinphile, I recently poured over hundreds of Franklin letters and essays in compiling and editing "The Compleated Autobiography" of Benjamin Franklin. And I can tell you that Franklin's original writing is not easy to understand today. Franklin's great story desperately needed a modern translation, and Prof. McCormick has finally done it. Bravo!
Last month, I spent many days searching for the best edition of Franklin's Autobiography. My mother, who is a direct descendant of Ben Franklin, wished to give copies of the Autobiography to her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren as an eternal memory of her life and her side of the family.
In looking at all the many editions of the Autobiography, my biggest fear was that young people wouldn't read it because of the outdated 18th century language. Franklin wrote his memoirs specifically "to benefit young readers," and during the 19th century it was highly successful. However, recently, the Autobiography has lost touch with the modern generation because of the language barrier.
Prof. McCormick has solved this problem brilliant. The McCormick edition is completely accessible to people of all ages, and it is beautifully illustrated with commentaries, quotes from Poor Richard's Almanac, and portraits of Franklin and others. As far as I'm aware it's the only hardback edition of the Autobiography available today.
I bought 60 copies of McCormick's version, and my mother has started sending them out to her family members. I've already received positive comments from some of the grandchildren who have started reading this exciting new version of Franklin's story. I'm sure Franklin would find it "most agreeable."
Prof. McCormick's version of Franklin's Autobiography deserves to be read by budding entrepreneurs and business leaders, and everyone else. I suspect it will be in print for many years to come.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2005
BEN FRANKLIN: AMERICA'S ORIGINAL ENTREPRENEUR
By Blaine McCormick
Reviewed by: Patricia Schaefer
Buy this book from Amazon.com
"Sometime during the last 50 years most of us stopped reading The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin even though it's one of the greatest success stories in American history.
"Contrary to perceptions people might have of him, Franklin fully expected his autobiography to be more useful to young businesspeople than to, say, budding diplomats or scientists. Franklin clearly wanted the book to be useful to those interested in a career in business, and it is in this spirit that I have modernized his original text."
So says Blaine McCormick in his Introduction to Ben Franklin: America's Original Entrepreneur, and McCormick does indeed achieve his objective in this splendid and spellbinding adaptation.
McCormick, Ph.D., and nationally recognized scholar on the business practices of Benjamin Franklin, seamlessly applies and joins together Franklin's eighteenth century business principles to our twenty-first century business world. In addition to the written word, the book itself draws you in with its "weathered" pages and shadow image of Franklin himself gazing upon you from many of its pages.
A Business Know-How poll of a small number of modern day entrepreneurs found that nine out of ten have never read the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Knowledge of Franklin -- one of our greatest Americans -- was often limited to "signer of the Declaration of Independence, the `face' on the 100-dollar bill, and the discoverer of electricity with the famous key on the string of a kite." In McCormick's pages, Franklin's actual accomplishments and beliefs leave one awed and inspired.
Although Franklin's most celebrated achievements came after he had already established himself as a successful businessman, it is his early years of poverty, struggle and strife -- and Franklin's impressive self-made journey to success -- that leap out of the pages and stir one's soul.
Considering our recent corporate scandals rife with dishonesty, greed and negligible regard for the "little guy," every business person today would do well to read about Franklin's personally crafted self-improvement program which he claimed "contributed more to the quality and happiness of my life than anything else I tried." For years, he kept a daily record of his success and failure in developing habits of 13 moral virtues.
According to McCormick's Franklin, "Wrongdoing is not harmful to yourself and others because it's forbidden; it's forbidden because it's harmful. As such, it's in everybody's best interest to live a virtuous life if they want to be happy and successful. This is the way the world works. The young people reading this should take special note: nothing will make a person's fortune like simple goodness and honesty."
Surely, certain Enron executives would have benefited had they heeded this advice.
Franklin himself was not without faults, but masterfully used his mistakes and failings -- particularly in his younger years - as a true learning tool and stepping stone to greatness. At the age of ten, young Franklin led a group of friends in the building of a fishing pier along with the pilfering of a considerable amount of stones to build their pier. Their wrongdoing was soon discovered and, through the wise and convincing words of his father, Franklin cemented his belief in the necessity for honesty in all endeavors.
Possessing an affinity for universal truths and wisdom-guided beliefs, Franklin -- at the age of 26 -- created the character and witty sayings of "Poor Richard" Saunders in his Poor Richard Almanacks. McCormick cleverly sprinkles throughout the margins of his book many of the still-famous sayings and proverbs of Franklin's Poor Richard; things like, "Eat to live, and not live to eat" and "Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise."
It is no accident that Benjamin Franklin is on the top of virtually every list of any poll showing this country's greatest Americans. After reading "Franklin's autobiography for modern times," it becomes evident that this great statesman, inventor, scientist, printer, musician, economist and philosopher possessed a unique brand of intelligence that resonates and relates to the common man.
Every business student, every business owner, every corporate giant would be well served to read and explore the pages of Ben Franklin: America's Original Entrepreneur. Here they will witness -- in Franklin's challenging struggle from poverty to the fulfillment of the "American dream" -- that truth, authenticity and integrity in all business dealings are the foundations to real success.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2005
Like a lot of successful businessmen, Ben Franklin looked back in his later years and wrote a book aimed at telling young people how to succeed as he had. We tend to forget that in thinking of Franklin as a statesman in France during the American Revolution that he was first and foremost a businessman. When we think of him in business, we think of him as a printer. We forget that he invented the Franklin stove (reducing the heating cost of everyone). He started a college, now called the University of Pennsylvania. He started other businesses, too many to mention in this short review. And he started public service organizations like the Union Fire Company.
His book, now three hundred years old makes for fairly difficult reading. His language has aged more than has his sentiments. Dr. McCormick has taken his original book and re-written it in more modern english, re-organized it a bit for consistency. And put Poor Richard's bits of wisdom in little side panels.
I've read a lot of business books, and this one ranks among the very best. It doesn't have a lot of technical details like how to form a corporation or deal with the IRS. It's about the fundamentals of finding a need and putting together a business to meet that need.
One last point. This is a book. If you order it through the mail, it typically shippes Media Mail. It is an interesting point that Franking was a printer, producing books; Franklin was also the first Postmaster General of the U.S. Pure co-incidence I'm sure that books ship at a favorable postage rate.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2005
I just finished this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I read the original, but found it dense and difficult to follow. Dr. McCormick has done a masterful job of translating Franklin's language while still retaining the underlying meaning.
The stories Franklin tells are fantastic, it is almost a primer on how to be successful in business. Many of the pitfalls he encounters are the same as what someone today would run into. The lessons are practical, and Dr. McCormick's commentary makes it easier to see what Franklin is really getting at, whereas it may have been difficult otherwise.
I enjoyed reading this book and recommend it for anyone interested in Franklin, colonial history, and most of all, how to be successful.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
When we think of Ben Franklin, we generally think of him holding a kite in a thunderstorm or his witty sayings under the name Poor Richard.
What we forget that Ben Franklin arrived in Philadelphia with just over a dollar in his pocket and went on to become one of the most successful businessman of his time. More importantly for all of us, he became a very successful contributor to the lives of others.
One of the real benefits of the book is Franklin's "Plan to Achieve Moral Prefection". He soon realized that prefection was not possible, but striving for prefection guaranteed success. Follow that plan and you guarantee your own success.
As an added benefit to reading all about what and why Franklin did the things he did, you get a great refresher course on early American history.
The book is well written and very enjoyable to read. It is also very enlightening.
Professor McCormick has taken the original work and made it easy and interesting to read. There are thousands of self-help books on the market today. Why not learn from America's original entrepreneur and a great teacher. If you study and learn the principles of Franklin's success, you will have gone a long way to ensure your own.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2005
Dr. Blaine McCormick has truly lived up to the challenge of expressing the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin in a way that is understandable by all walks of life. This book does a remarkable job of explaining who Ben Franklin was and how he came to be a man of respect, success, and great influence.
This adaptation of Ben Franklin's autobiography is one of the best books I have ever read. It truly shows the brilliance of our Founding Father and how he displays that brilliance through overcoming both simple and extremely complex conflicts.
The way the book takes shape is chronologically, explaining the conflicts and opportunities that arose as Franklin went from a conflicted younger sibling, to an apprentice, to a successful business man and finally to a military and political leader. It takes you through each of these parts of Franklin's life and shows the reader how one can learn so much from the Founding Father who started out with very little but ended his life with a sizeable fortune and world-wide respect.
Through modern day examples and the wit and wisdom of Benjamin Franklin placed throughout the pages, the author allows us to see the principles that Franklin lived by and how we can apply those principles to our everyday life.
Also, a great addition to the book is Dr. McCormick's introduction to each chapter with a short note that brings the reader up to speed in Franklin's life, develops some modern day practices that Franklin displays, and let's the reader know what he or she will get out of the upcoming chapter. These are very helpful in maintaining the storyline while still being absorbed in the wit and wisdom, as well as for giving alternative views that will assist the reader in fully exploiting the text's value.
This book is for any businessman, any student about to enter the professional world, and anyone else that is seeking wisdom and improvement. Franklin does touch on concepts that come up in specified niches, but every thought and communication that he shares and explains can be practiced by anyone seeking change for the better.
I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those about to start a new path in the journey of life.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This book is a goldmine for American History enthusiasts and
readers of Benjamin Franklin. The word Franklin means freedom-
literally. Our founding father was first a silk dyer in London
before becoming the classic inventor and thinker passed through
the decades of the American Heritage. Ben Franklin credits G-d
and his associates for his successes in life. There are a
plethora of important sayings in this rendition. For instance,
Poor Richard declared " Whence you came, Where are you going
and To Whom do you account ".
Benjamin Franklin enjoyed reading in his father's library.
He read works avidly; such as, Cotton Mather's essays on how
to do good. For a time, Ben experimented with vegetables and
health food. He found that entrepreneurs benefited from having
lived the tough life. Benjamin Franklin urged moderation
despite successful outcomes. He told us to eat to live
rather than vice versa. On morality, he noted that success
has ruined many a man (person). Additionally, he stated that
the favor of the Great is not to inherit. I guess he meant that
inheritors tended to be less ambitious, more risk averse and
There are a number of black/white photos of the time. The
photography depicts the birthplace of Benjamin Franklin,
as well as his wife and brother's printing shop. Ben studied
French, Latin, Italian and Spanish in addition to English.
This work will appeal to a wide constituency of scholars
in academe both here and abroad. It would provide a perfect
class project for the student in your house. Lastly, the
acquisition is priced reasonably for cost-conscious consumers.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
An innovation! The entrepreneurs at Entrepreneur Press have created a new product... a marvelous gift book (graduations come to mind, but there are birthdays, holidays, Bat and Bar Mitzvahs, take your daughter to work day, etc.). The advice is timeless, and the story inspiring!
Changes in the English language and gaps in our understanding of its historical context make the original inaccessible to many. Blaine McCormick has isolated the vignettes of Franklin's story, modernized his words and introduced each segment with just the right amount of background. Aphorisms from Poor Richard decorate the margins. The paper and print type and color suggest the time in history.
Franklin is wonderful and honest. He tells us how to negotiate, debate and change other people's opinions. Long before sensitivity training, Frankin taught the importance of people skills.
For the marketers at EP, I have a suggestion. Reduce production costs, rework the annotations and produce a paperback for international distribution. I've taught English abroad, and the ESL high school and adult learner would love this work! They are saturated with shortened versions of Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes and other primarily British classics, but they memorize Martin Luther King speeches for fun and competition. These students could benefit from this positive presentation of the fundamental philosophy that built the US as well as the wonderful advice of the man I consider to be our most beloved founding father.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2005
Ben Franklin's autobiography has been adapted and edited by Blake McCormick to showcase one of the best business stories arising from America's colonial period. Ben Franklin was a superb entrepreneur, inventor, and writer who influenced not only the political, but the cultural, social, and business climates of his day. In "Ben Franklin: America's Original Entrepreneur " the reader is provided with insights and illustrations as applicable as business models today as they were more than two hundred years ago. Enthusiastically recommended reading -- especially for anyone aspiring to success is the business world whether as an individual entrepreneur or as a member of a corporate team.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2006
As with all of Blaine McCormick's work, "Ben Franklin" is a marvel of clarity and insight. McCormick is a thoughtful writer with a deft hand for both language AND research -- a rare combination. I recommend this highly not just to people to are interested in Franklin, but to people who are interested in the United States ... how we got where we are today.