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Benjamin Franklin: An American Life Hardcover – 4 Aug 2003
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"Benjamin Franklin", writes journalist and biographer Walter Isaacson in An American Life, "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 Franklin's 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 here's 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, Amazon.com
"The New York Times Book Review" A thoroughly researched, crisply written, convincingly argued chronicle.
"The New York Times" In its common sense, clarity and accessibility, it is a fitting reflection of Franklin's sly pragmatism....This may be the book that most powerfully drives a new pendulum swing of the Franklin reputation.
"The New Yorker" Energetic, entertaining, and worldly.
"The Washington Post Book World" The most readable full-length Franklin biography available.
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It was relatively boring to read all the personal conflicts where...Read more
Walter Isaacson is one of the greatest biographers writing today, and this book...Read more