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Benjamin Franklin Unmasked: On the Unity of His Moral, Religious, and Political Thought (American Political Thought) Hardcover – September 7, 2005


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Product Details

  • Series: American Political Thought
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; First edition (September 7, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 070061396X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700613960
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,948,434 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"An elegant and fascinating companion to, and analysis of, the work of our cleverest Founding Father." -- Christopher Hitchens in the Atlantic Monthly

"Ravishingly subversive." -- Andrew Sullivan

"Weinberger's book offers a revolutionary reevaluation of Franklin's thought." -- Weekly Standard

From the Back Cover

"Franklin's many masks are examined and lifted to disclose the one real man--a thinker--behind them. Weinberger gives us the radical truth about Franklin in a book that is a delight to read."--Harvey Mansfield, author of America's Constitutional Soul

"With the focus of a bloodhound and the tenacity of a bulldog Weinberger follows Ben's spoofs and sophisms into whatever cul-de-sac they lead. His Franklin is a coherent philosopher-skeptic who teases us into thinking for ourselves. . . . A bracing, hilarious, and enlightening experience."--Ralph Lerner, author of The Thinking Revolutionary: Principle and Practice in the New Republic

"A lively, clever and well-informed account that's sure to raise controversy."--Ralph Ketcham, author of The Political Thought of Ben Franklin


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Shaun King.com on December 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am interested in comparing the 5 best biographies of Benjamin Franklin that have been written (thus far) in the new millennia, emphasizing Weinberger's account.

THE BEST 5 BIOGRAPHIES ARE (in order of publication date)
Edmund S. Morgan's Benjamin Franklin (Yale Nota Bene S.)
H. W. Brands's The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin
Walter Isaacson's Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
Gordon S. Wood's The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin
Jerry Weinberger's Benjamin Franklin Unmasked: On the Unity of His Moral, Religious, and Political Thought (American Political Thought)

The first 4 of these biographies are presented as in the typical historically (and chronologically) biographical approach. There are 24 pictures in Morgan's book, no pictures in Brands's book, 32 pictures in Isaacson's book, 25 pictures in Wood's book, and no pictures in Weinberger's book.
I am not going to write about how great Franklin was or what he did (he was great and he did so much). I want to write primarily about how each of these authors portrays Franklin's character differently by highlighting different aspects of his life.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. Novak on February 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Jerry Weinberger has truly revealed the real Franklin behind the masks. First, this book is truly hilarious...Franklin's scatalogical humor, his idea to create sweet-smelling flatulence, or his advice to bed older women who will be more grateful, makes reading this also-serious work a laugh riot!!

Second, Weinberger has taken Franklin more seriously than anyone else to date and lays bare the real intent behind his though. The review by "Dave" here completely misses the point of the book. Franklin mocked everything and everyone, including himself, so one has to look beyond the words written to the true meaning, which is revealed by Weinberger to lie in numerous contradictions, confusing language and re-worded poems. For example, the "contradiction" that "Dave" fails to see is that Franklin at one point in his Autobiography mentions that he never stopped believing in god; something that completely contradicts an earlier claim by Franklin that he did indeed stop believing, only to return to religion later in life. As Weinberger mentions, is it believable or possible that a religious person could forget that he once did not believe, or forget the very moment at which he became a believer? Hardly. Weinberger's task is to unravel this mystery...and he does so masterfully.

If you want to know Benjamin Franklin beyond what is presented in the biographies (and I have read those by Brands and Isaacson) to see the true depth and power of his thoughts, Weinberger's book is excellent!!!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lector on April 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have read a great many books on the founders-including several on Franklin-and this stands head-and-shoulders above the rest. Weinberger combines historical knowledge with political insight and philosophic depth in a way that I've never seen. The resulting interpetation was a revelation, changing not only how I view Franklin, but how I view the world. If you've never encountered a book of this sort, you owe it to yourself to read it. It's a rare treat to find one first-rate mind exploring and exhibiting the labyrinthian delights to be found in another. Bonus: the book is also extremely funny, perhaps the funniest political biography ever written.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Smitty on May 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book was recommended to me by a friend. And since reading the book, both she and I have recommended it to everyone we know. All that was left was for me to write a review here and to start recommending it to strangers. I fear though that I cannot do this particular book justice with my meager reviewing abilities. The book is the most enjoyable scholarly biography I have ever read. It is both profound and laugh-out-loud funny. It deftly leads the reader through the complexities of Franklin's philosophy, helping one arrive at a new and deeper respect for one of this country's worthiest heroes. And it allows one a comical glimpse at the whimsical workings of a genius's mind. I'm currently rearranging a course I'm planning to teach in order to make room for this fascinating contribution to the study of our forefathers.
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