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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We can all learn something from this book
Benjamin Franklin's autobiography is the story of one man's efforts to integrate certain principles and habits - integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty - into his life and to embed them deep within his nature. Franklin was a scientist, philosopher, statesman, inventor, educator, diplomat, politician, humorist...
Published on 15 Dec 2003 by DAVID-LEONARD WILLIS

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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Benjamin Franklin autobiography review
The first part of the book is heavy fog index. The publisher should have put in chapters and natural breaks. It makes the reading laborious. The eighteenth century spelling makes one read far more slowly.Altogether an informative book makes one wish to learn more of the period. But beware of the aforementioned.
Published on 15 April 2012 by Dejamanjeau


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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We can all learn something from this book, 15 Dec 2003
By 
DAVID-LEONARD WILLIS (Thessaloniki Greece) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Benjamin Franklin's autobiography is the story of one man's efforts to integrate certain principles and habits - integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty - into his life and to embed them deep within his nature. Franklin was a scientist, philosopher, statesman, inventor, educator, diplomat, politician, humorist and man of letters who led a very full life. He was also a moralist and humanitarian who was happy to be considered unconventional by doing things the way he thought they should be done. His was a life well lived and a model from which we can learn much. In the introduction we are told: "Himself a master of the motives of human conduct, Franklin did not set out to reveal himself in his autobiography. Rather, he intended to tell us (insofar as we, the nation, are the 'posterity' to whom he addressed himself) how life was to be lived, good done, and happiness achieved - how the ball was to be danced."
Franklin did not have an easy life as the tenth son of a candle maker whose education ended at the age of ten. But by hard work and careful planning he was able to retire from business at the age of forty-two and devote his time to science and politics. He was sent to England in 1764 to petition the King to end the proprietary government of the colony. Soon after the Revolution began he was sent to France to negotiate an alliance with Louis XVI. He was a member of the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence. It is difficult to image anyone not coming away richer from reading this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic!, 25 Oct 2007
By 
Michael J. Brett "Michael Brett" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This book is a kind of time machine that puts you straight into the Eighteenth Century. Benjamin Franklin comes over as a fearless and open character, although he is at pains to present himself as a solid and successful businessman in the printing industry. He is very much a man of his time. He concerns himself with God and self-improvement, then after he marries he says how glad he is that he did not catch VD from 'certain low women' beforehand. This, certainly consciously, echoes St Paul's advice on why people should marry.

Within the text are probably whole layers of meaning and allusions to contemporary events and news culture that are lost on twenty-first century readers. He is certainly working within religious and classical traditions of what an autobiography should be: a conversation with God, carried on in public? or moral examples and advice to the young.

Sometimes he is having a laugh at the autobiographical and literary form itself. For example, it is a commmonplace of Eighteenth Century Literature that you-the writer-had no intention of publishing your book until you were prevailed upon by your friends or the public. Franklin opens the second section of his autobiography with a letter purportedly from a Quaker who says that a life of Franklin would be worth even more than 'all Plutarch's Lives put together.'This must have raised a laugh in his local club, his 'junto' as he calls it.

However, within the same pages, Franklin describes, clearly with pride, how he swims from Chelsea to Blackfriars in London-which is quite a physical feat, it being two or three miles. He is also at some pains to place much of his financial success on hard work, simplicity and the avoidance of alcohol. These aspects of his life would bequite important for his Low Church readers.

Interestingly-as negative examples- he reports that his London workmates routinely down six pints of strong ale a day, both at home and in the printing office. For his contemporaries, this was unusual from the point of view of the English printers being not just drunkards, but -for his audience- very old fashioned. English people in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuroes -including babies hence the phrases 'tiny tots' 'small beer' etc.- drank beer and ale as drinking street pump water was correctly suspected to cause disease.

Here, through the implication that beer drinking is old fashioned and unhealthy, especially when compared to American coffee drinking, Franklin is presenting his American readers with the idea that-once again- the Colonies, rather than being a backwater, are more modern that their British counterparts in the Imperial Capital of London.

At the heart of his political thinking seems to be the moral rather than political idea that with moral virtue-and thus God- on your side, you are unstoppable, and sees the United States' future greatness to lie in this.
He takes pains to connect political greatness with the moral quality and education of individual citizens, laying particular emphasis on literacy, and reports with pride how he helped to establish the first lending library in the United States, in Philadelphia.

As a moralist rather than a politician, his republican beliefs do not seem as universal as, say, those of revolutionaries like Robespierre or Tom Paine. For him, the American Republic seems to be uniquely American. At one point he is pleased to report, and say that it is an aspect of his success in life that he has dined with a king, and names him as the King of Denmark. Tom Paine would never have dined with a king, unless it were to poison him!

Now the non-PC bit as bang go his green credentials. The 1726 Journal has Franklin helping to kill and eat dolphins while travelling by sea. He says they are good to eat, and regards them as fish rather than mammals.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Benjamin Franklin autobiography review, 15 April 2012
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The first part of the book is heavy fog index. The publisher should have put in chapters and natural breaks. It makes the reading laborious. The eighteenth century spelling makes one read far more slowly.Altogether an informative book makes one wish to learn more of the period. But beware of the aforementioned.
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