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.
Benjamin Franklin: An American Life Paperback – June 1, 2004
Find Rare and Collectible Books
Discover rare, signed and first edition books on AbeBooks, an Amazon Company. Learn More on AbeBooks.com.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Benjamin Franklin, writes journalist and biographer Walter Isaacson, was that rare Founding Father who would sooner wink at a passer-by than sit still for a formal portrait. What's more, Isaacson relates in this fluent and entertaining biography, the revolutionary leader represents a political tradition that has been all but forgotten today, one that prizes pragmatism over moralism, religious tolerance over fundamentalist rigidity, and social mobility over class privilege. That broadly democratic sensibility allowed Franklin his contradictions, as Isaacson shows. Though a man of lofty principles, Franklin wasn't shy of using sex to sell the newspapers he edited and published; though far from frivolous, he liked his toys and his mortal pleasures; and though he sometimes gave off a simpleton image, he was a shrewd and even crafty politician. Isaacson doesn't shy from enumerating Franklins occasional peccadilloes and shortcomings, in keeping with the iconoclastic nature of our time--none of which, however, stops him from considering Benjamin Franklin "the most accomplished American of his age," and one of the most admirable of any era. And heres one bit of proof: as a young man, Ben Franklin regularly went without food in order to buy books. His example, as always, is a good one--and this is just the book to buy with the proceeds from the grocery budget. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Following closely on the heels of Edmund Morgan's justly acclaimed Benjamin Franklin, Isaacson's longer biography easily holds its own. How do the two books differ? Isaacson's is more detailed; it lingers over such matters as the nature of Franklin's complex family circumstances and his relations with others, and it pays closer attention to each of his extraordinary achievements. Morgan's is more subtle and reflective. Each in its different way is superb. Isaacson (now president of the Aspen Institute, he is the former chairman of CNN and a Henry Kissinger biographer) has a keen eye for the genius of a man whose fingerprints lie everywhere in our history. The oldest, most distinctive and multifaceted of the founders, Franklin remains as mysterious as Jefferson. After examining the large body of existing Franklin scholarship as skillfully and critically as any scholar, Isaacson admits that his subject always "winks at us" to keep us at bay-which of course is one reason why he's so fascinating. Unlike, say, David McCullough's John Adams, which seeks to restore Adams to public affection, this book has no overriding agenda except to present the story of Franklin's life. Unfortunately, for all its length, it's a book of connected short segments without artful, easy transitions So whether this fresh and lively work will replace Carl Van Doren's beloved 1938 Benjamin Franklin in readers' esteem remains to be seen.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Read it. You`'ll be happy you did.
To anyone with even a remote interest in the founding fathers, I heartily recommend this masterpiece. Walter Isaacson is to be commended for writing a life story of Franklin that is both easy to read and extremely well researched.
The biographer several times commented on whether an action he took was in character or not, or well thought out. Hindsight is 20:20 and sometimes you just make bad choices. As circumspect as Benjamin Franklin was: I'm sure there was some logic to all his choices. Whether it was flawed or not just reassures us in his humanity.
I found this is a nice comprehensive review of what seemed to make Ben Franklin into the man we all have read about. What I was surprised about was his wanton disregard of family, especially that of his own wife and daughter, while seemingly to have adoptive families in the different areas he resided. He struck me as a very self-indulgent man despite or maybe because of his maxims. Gout is not a disease of restraint. Most people are a mix of different personalities and Benjamin Franklin came across as a manipulative, intelligent, self indulgent man. Like all of us in some ways he was hypocritical in espousing the virtues of a middle class man, while living in an indulgent (not-middle class way). However, one thing he was consistent was his refusal to endorse any religion. In that day and age, I'm sure he was critiqued for it. I applaud his consistency. He showed respect for all creeds and is not the "In God we Trust" religious depot our religious right often portrays him as.
Overall this book was well written and interesting. Having taken history class so many years ago, it was interesting to read about all the characters that were the founding fathers of our country and their backbiting. Sounds like current day politics.
This book certainly made the subject matter come alive and was a great read.