- 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: 2,030 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (Dover Thrift Editions) New edition Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
From the Back Cover
Franklin's extraordinary range of interests and accomplishments are brilliantly recorded in hisAutobiography, considered one of the classics of the genre. Covering his life up to his prewar stay in London as representative of the Pennsylvania Assembly, this charming self-portrait recalls Franklin's boyhood, his determination to achieve high moral standards, his work as a printer, experiments with electricity, political career, experiences during the French and Indian War, and more. Related in an honest, open, unaffected style, this highly readable account offers a wonderfully intimate glimpse of the Founding Father sometimes called "the wisest American."
About the Author
Edmund S. Morgan is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
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.
If you’ve ever worked in the printing industry (as I have), you’ll enjoy the book all the more. The first half of the book details his course in establishing himself as a printer and newspaper publisher in Philadelphia. Book lovers will appreciate the details Franklin provides on his founding of America’s first public library. This institution grew out of a club called the Junto which Franklin formed with several friends, to aid each other in mutual intellectual and moral improvement. Franklin is very candid about his religious views, describing himself early on as a deist, meaning he believes that God created the universe but does not interfere in the natural course of the universe. Though his views disagree with those of the prominent Christian sects of his day, he recognized the social and moral benefits of organized religion, participated in religious services, and appreciated a well-written, practical sermon.
The Autobiography is a practical sermon in and of itself, as Franklin outlines his own personal guide to the good life. He presents his plan for attaining “moral perfection,” listing 13 essential virtues, and his attempts to cultivate each of them. Though he readily admits he never achieved the perfection he sought, he avers that his life has benefited greatly from trying. And looking at his life, that’s an assertion that’s hard to dispute. Reading The Autobiography harkens one back to a time when a gentleman of a certain class, through intelligence and hard work, could literally achieve whatever he wanted in life. Opportunities abounded, and Franklin took full advantage of them. Prior to the age of specialization, he was able to excel in business, politics, philosophy, letters, and science.
Despite the great admiration I have for Franklin, even I have to admit there are some extremely yawnworthy passages here, but it’s worth slogging through them to get to the good stuff. I found Franklin’s political endeavors the least interesting, such as when he recounts certain legislative squabbles in great detail. There’s also an entire chapter on how he acquired horses and wagons at the request of the British military. Those hoping for cameos by Washington, Jefferson, and the like will be disappointed. All this took place before the Revolution, of course, and the only names likely to be recognized by history buffs are perhaps those of various British governors.
I’m sure there are more complete biographies of Franklin out there, but there’s certainly something to be said for getting one’s history straight from the horse’s mouth. Though you may not get the full story of his life, reading The Autobiography will surely give you a taste of what it might have been like to meet this remarkable man and bask in his wise and witty conversation.
Most recent customer reviews
I wish that he would have continued through his later exploits.