- 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: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1,245 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (Dover Thrift Editions) New edition Edition
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"Franklin's is one of the greatest autobiographies in literature, and towers over other autobiographies as Franklin towered over other men." -William Dean Howells --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
From the Publisher
Also available by Edmund S. Morgan: Benjamin Franklin --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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. I particularly liked the picture Franklin draws of contemporary American society -- free, open, and small, with most people in most towns all knowing each other, and business opportunities are wide open for anyone with industry and pluck. I'm not sure how similar modern-day America still is to Franklin's Philadelphia, but it's certain that Franklin -- and this book -- helped set the image that we still *want* to believe America conforms to. And for that alone, it's worth reading.
If you like this book, you might also be interested in reading Alexis de Tocqueville's _Democracy in America_, for another view of colonial-era America, or any of Mark Twain's nonfiction (_Life on the Mississippi_, _Roughing It_, etc.), for similar accounts of America's growth and development a hundred-odd years further on. Any of those should be available as a free Kindle download.
The prose in this book is, as you'd expect, 18th century so you get plenty of "thee" and "thy" but not to distraction. It is a compelling read and difficult to put down but the language gets tedious. As you can tell by my rating this does not diminish the quality of the book but may affect some potential readers.
In all it's definitely worth your time and effort to understand one of the founding geniuses of our country. Really, this man is a true American hero. Where would we be without a free press, libraries and many of his other contributions? He was a skilled negotiator very much in the right place at the right time.
Still, it would be all the more satisfying to hear his side of the events of the Revolution. I wonder at the gaping hole presented by this. Perhaps he was afraid of arrest or worse? One is left imagining whether there would even be a United States were it not for BF.
It would be interesting if other readers might share other biographical recommendations, if any, that could shed light on the latter part of Mr. Franklin's life. This book is an essential first step towards a complete understanding of one of our founding fathers.