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The Autobiography and Other Writings (Bantam Classics) Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 1982
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"Reasonably priced, comprehensive edition with good selection of other writings."--Virginia Caris, George Washington University
"I really like this edition because of the variety of Franklin's writings represented here. The affordability of this text is greatly appreciated by the students as well."--Lynn Searfoss, Purdue University
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN (1706-1790) was a printer, writer, inventor, scientist, diplomat, and statesman. JILL LEPORE is the David Woods Kemper '41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and a staff writer at The New Yorker. Her books include Book of Ages, a finalist for the National Book Award; New York Burning, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; The Name of War, winner of the Bancroft Prize; The Mansion of Happiness, which was short-listed for the 2013 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction; and The Secret History of Wonder Woman. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Top customer reviews
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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.
As to the classic text of Franklin's <i>Autobiography</i>, what more can be said that already hasn't for a century. A story of pluck and determination. A story of hard work and humility. A story of virtue versus vice. A story of humor and wit. A story that encourages all the morals and values that made America great. You can see definitely why American children were made to read this all through the 1800s and early 1900s. It is a sort of shame that that is not the case now. Franklin's pragmatism, ecumenicism, public-mindedness, entrepreneurship, and joie de vivre is a story that should be told and emulated by all no matter their gender, age, creed, race, or color, i.e., by every American. In many ways Franklin is the quintessential American.
The book could be improved with a bit of modern editing, just adding a few paragraph breaks, printing a little larger and perhaps some added chapters would make the book easier to read.
The lack of the 5th star is only because its written in an archaic form of English. You might consider reading it on your Kindle as I did ... it has a built in dictionary lookup. Otherwise keep your Websters at the ready!