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The Compleated Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin (Completed Autobiography) Hardcover – November 21, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"The Compleated Autobiography retains [the] sophistication, humor, and sense of irony that made the original autobiography a classic--and is destined to create a renewed appreciation of Benjamin Franklin...." --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From the Inside Flap

Franklin—in Franklin’s Own Words Benjamin Franklin’s celebrated Autobiography, published after his death, is one of the greatest autobiographies of all time… but it was incomplete. Franklin ended his life’s story in 1757, when he was only fifty-one. He planned to write more—a lot more, but never did. He lived another thirty-three full, eventful, and dramatic years, some of the most dramatic years in American history, years in which Franklin was America’s advocate in London, represented Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress, and was America’s wartime ambassador to France. During these years Franklin also helped write our nation’s Constitution and planned an American Empire that would displace the British Empire. Franklin is one of the most fascinating of the Founding Fathers—a polymath like Jefferson, a practical statesman like Washington, and a cynic and wit beyond parallel. Now, at last, in The Compleated Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin, we finally get the rest of the story, in Franklin’s own words. Faithfully compiled and edited from Franklin’s papers by Dr. Mark Skousen— Franklin’s descendant, acting as his devoted secretary—this is the closest we will ever get to Franklin sitting down in his study in Philadelphia, dipping quill into ink, and finishing his autobiography. In The Compleated Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin, you’ll learn: * Why the United States could not have won the war without Franklin’s diplomatic heroics

* What Franklin really thought of his fellow patriots, like Adams, Jefferson, and Washington

* Franklin’s dramatic one-word change in the Declaration of Independence * Franklin’s radical views on the Constitution, and how his compromise cleared a critical roadblock at the Convention

* Franklin’s candid views on sex and adultery while in France

* His personal philosophy as a radical democrat, and sometimes a social conservative

* How the American Revolution caused Franklin to shift from a free-thinking heretic to a pragmatic believer Soon to be a classic of American history, the Compleated Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin is beautifully illustrated and designed—and a must-read, as we celebrate the 300th anniversary of Franklin’s birth. On each page, the reader will discover what it truly means to be an American, what a precious heritage has been bequeathed to us, and how great the United States has been from the beginning, all seen through the eyes of the most colorful of the Founding Fathers.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery History (November 21, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0895260336
  • ISBN-13: 978-0895260338
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.6 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,201,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nelson Hultberg on December 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is one of those books you just don't want to end. You treasure every nuance and anecdote. The work that Dr. Skousen must have put into it to coordinate the needed material from hundreds of thousands of pages of Franklin's writings -- what a feat of scholarship! Very impressive.

The trick was to make it read like an actual autobiography, which Skousen has pulled off. To do this, the project must have been akin to Spielberg shooting the scenes of one of his famous movies and then putting it all together in the cutting room. You are swept up in Franklin the man, his ingenious mind, his multifarious views, his contemporaries' personalities, and his country's hopes. Franklin is telling you his story with his inimitable persona, but Skousen has orchestrated it, and superbly so.

There is a mesmerizing quality to the book that lures you in, which surely is due to the quality of Franklin's lofty character; but also due to the way that his writing has been compiled into an enthralling story.

There are some startling revelations scattered throughout. Good old Ben talks rather openly on certain subjects and certain people. I will leave the details of such revelations to the reader's perusal. But this tome is well worth the price. It is a book that you will return to repeatedly to savor Franklin's pithy observations.

The man was rife with philosophical wisdom and a myriad of inventive talents, undoubtedly one of those souls that was wise at an early age. He had a very balanced view of life and a most engaging personality that made him loved by all American patriots as well as the English and the French people.

But this lovableness of the sage Doctor did not prohibit him from taking an unyielding stand upon principle when called for.
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Format: Hardcover
Benjamin Franklin is one of those most rare historical figures who retain a sense of immediacy and relevance to every subsequent generation. As I read his writings, I am reminded on each page of his immense intellectual gifts, his endless curiosity, and his ability to observe things in the sharpest detail. Franklin's writings fill many volumes and a library could be filled with just books about this very important American. With all that, does this book make a significant enough contribution to warrant your purchasing and reading it? I answer with an emphatic YES!

Franklin worked on his memoirs at different periods in his life beginning in 1771. While a Colonial Agent in England, he was staying at Bishop Jonathan Shipley's house and wrote Part I there when he was 65 years old. It covers his life from his birth in 1706 to 1730. Part II of his autobiography was written in Paris in 1784 when he was the American minister to France. Part II includes his famous list of virtues. Part III covers the years 1732-57 and was written in 1788 when Franklin was 82. Part IV is only a few pages long and not all editions include this portion. It was written over a few months in late 1789 through March 1790 - shortly before Franklin's death. You can, and should, pick up any number of editions of the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. I particularly like the volume prepared by the Library of America and it has all four portions.

This volume was prepared by one of Franklin's descendents, Mark Skousen. The author of the words included in this volume, though, is Benjamin Franklin. Skousen has done a masterful job of taking us from 1757 through 1787 and Franklin's last will and testament of 1788.
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Format: Hardcover
Dr. Skousen, a descendent of Franklin, has done everyone a great favor by collecting the rest of Franklin's autobiographical writings in one place. This book is incredibly well-crafted. Skousen clearly spent many hours pouring over Franklin's writings and papers choosing the most exemplary from the thousands of pages available. Then he masterfully edits the texts to make them accessible to the modern reader without losing Franklin's voice. This takes not only skill but love. Skousen clearly loves Franklin and brings Franklin's fascinating life and legacy to all readers. Franklin was our most versatile and resourceful founding father and his life lessons still resonate today. This book is for anyone who wishes to have a deeper, fuller understanding of American history.
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Format: Hardcover
Franklin never sat down with the intent to write an autobiography covering the last 33 years of his life, and yet this book presents all the practical wit, wisdom, humor and love and lust for life he experienced in those years in his own words. It is hard to believe that Mr. Skousen compiled this work from volumes upon volumes of Franklin's writings, which include letters, essays and dictation to his grandson. This is no patchwork of letters and essays. It is a very well constructed account of Franklin's thoughts and experiences from 1757-1790 in his own words, and there is no other way we would get that without each and every one of us poring over thousands of documents. Thank you, Mark Skousen, for doing all the dirty work and giving us such an easy-to-read compilation. As the narrator of the audiobook, I was particularly impressed by the work's fluency. It is highly entertaining, extremely informative and very readable.
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