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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin [Paperback]

by Benjamin Franklin
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (752 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 4, 2010 1936594374 978-1936594375
Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography

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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.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Tribeca Books (December 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936594374
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936594375
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 8.9 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (752 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #783,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
585 of 593 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Original American Dream 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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164 of 167 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening and Written in the Style of the Times 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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120 of 123 people found the following review helpful
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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114 of 119 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gives you just enough to want more... November 17, 2000
By A Customer
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, well written, incomplete
It was excellent, but I was disappointed that it did not cover his most important contributions during the Revolutionary War and subsequent peace negotiations.
Published 21 hours ago by William H. Libby
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read
Good historical read - great insight into the man and to the times back then.
Would recommend to anyone. Cheers
Published 1 day ago by Evelyn Stathoulis
5.0 out of 5 stars What a wonderful man...
Wonderfully complicated human. But good of heart and simple in his motivations: success and enjoyment. We see Franklin grow with time.
Published 3 days ago by Jim C Cowart
5.0 out of 5 stars a brilliant account of a brilliant life
This book is inspiring, entertaining, and useful to anyone wishing to better themselves. Ben Franklin is a terrific author, entrepreneur, business man, statesman, scientist, and... Read more
Published 3 days ago by Kanae Tokunaga
5.0 out of 5 stars A top Read
Franklin was one of those few first rate thinkers who just happened to live at the time of the American Revolution. Read more
Published 4 days ago by R. Bragassa
4.0 out of 5 stars I am still reading the book because it was chosen by a special book...
I am enjoying learning about Benjamin Franklin in his own words; the conditions under which he had to live and learn and his family life. I will write more when I finish the book.
Published 6 days ago by Mrs. Ursula Lyons
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting with Historical Facts
Enjoyed the read and seeing Benjamin Franklin's style of humor and writing! Recommend to those who like and enjoy history!
Published 6 days ago by Jimmie L. Bodenhamer
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard Read.
The book was good. It was a hard read for me as I had to reread sections to understand what was being said.
Published 6 days ago by Keith
5.0 out of 5 stars A great life, wisdom which applies to this day
Franklin was a rare man, a scientific and political genius, and a great writer. Reading if his life, in his own words, was uplifting and illuminating.
Published 7 days ago by Kendall P Auel
5.0 out of 5 stars Extra read all about it!
Its a clear discussion of all that he was and things he has done. Excellent read! Hope all who read this gem enjoy it as much as I did.
Published 9 days ago by Neil Leva
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