Benjamin Franklin and the Invention of America
Pilgrim's Progress: Boston, 1706-1723
Journeyman: Philadelphia and London, 1723-1726
Printer: Philadelphia, 1726-1732
Public Citizen: Philadelphia, 1731-1748
Scientist and Inventor: Philadelphia, 1744-1751
Politician: Philadelphia, 1749-1756
Troubled Waters: London, 1757-1762
Home Leave: Philadelphia, 1763-1764
Agent Provocateur: London, 1765-1770
Rebel: London, 1771-1775
Independence: Philadelphia, 1775-1776
Courtier: Paris, 1776-1778
Bon Vivant: Paris, 1778-1785
Peacemaker: Paris, 1778-1785
Sage: Philadelphia, 1785-1790
Cast of Characters
Sources and Abbreviations
Walter Isaacson, a professor of history at Tulane, has been CEO of the Aspen Institute, chair of CNN, and editor of Time. He is the author of Leonardo da Vinci; The Innovators; Steve Jobs; Einstein: His Life and Universe; Benjamin Franklin: An American Life; and Kissinger: A Biography, and the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. Visit him at Isaacson.Tulane.edu.
Most Americans know a bit about Franklin, therefore it's fascinating to get Isaacson's take on our eccentric forefather. The best biographies include less-than-flattering traits, and Isaacson does that to perfection. Franklin was a womanizer, had an illegitimate son, was disliked by Abigail Adams, and did electrical experiments during lightning storms. In his youth, he favored slavery, yet by the end of his life he was elected president of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery. He loved socializing and lively conversation, preferring the company of friends rather than family (he lived away from his common-law wife for 15 years). Narrator Nelson Runger splendidly re-creates early American accents; he adeptly handles the diverse quotes within the vast text, helping keep listeners on track. Both Isaacson and Runger should be lauded; a required purchase for all libraries.-Susan G. Baird, Chicago Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
The Washington Post Book World The most readable full-length
Franklin biography available.
The New Yorker Energetic, entertaining, and worldly.
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 York Times Book Review A thoroughly researched, crisply written, convincingly argued chronicle.
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. Agent, Amanda Urban. (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.