Benjamin Franklin is perhaps the most remarkable figure in American history: the greatest statesman of his age, he played a pivotal role in the formation of the American republic. He was also a pioneering scientist, a best-selling author, the country's first postmaster general, a printer, a bon vivant, a diplomat, a ladies' man, and a moralist - and the most prominent celebrity of the 18th century.
Franklin was, however, a man of vast contradictions, as Edmund Morgan demonstrates in this brilliant biography. A reluctant revolutionary, Franklin had desperately wished to preserve the British Empire, and he mourned the break, even as he led the fight for American independence. Despite his passion for sciences, Franklin viewed his groundbreaking experiments as secondary to his civic duties. And although he helped to draft both the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution, he had personally hoped that the new American government would take a different shape. Unraveling the enigma of Franklin's character, Morgan shows that he was the rare individual who constantly placed the public interest before his own desires.
Written by one of our greatest historians, Benjamin Franklin offers a provocative portrait of America's most extraordinary patriot. The book is published by Yale University Press.
©2002 Edmund S. Morgan (P)2010 Redwood Audiobooks
"Superb... The best short biography of Franklin ever written... [A] concise and beautifully written portrait of an American hero." (Gordon Wood, New York Review of Books)
The central problem is that this book is not the story of Benjamin Franklin - it is the story of American independence, told locally from the perspective of Benjamin Franklin. This is made worse by a tedious attitude of adulation and sycophancy. As this book tells it, the protagonist is surrounded bumbling people who love him and fools who oppose him. The ultimate portrayal is paper-thin and reveals little of Benjamin Franklin's character, personality or virtues. Disappointing.
The early chapters describing his youth provided most insight into his character. The rest of it is just sycophantic adulation.
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