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Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

von Walter Isaacson

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4,487671,962 (3.99)93
In this authoritative and engrossing full-scale biography, Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of Einstein and Steve Jobs, shows how the most fascinating of America's founders helped define our national character. Benjamin Franklin is the founding father who winks at us, the one who seems made of flesh rather than marble. In a sweeping narrative that follows Franklin's life from Boston to Philadelphia to London and Paris and back, Walter Isaacson chronicles the adventures of the runaway apprentice who became, over the course of his eighty-four-year life, America's best writer, inventor, media baron, scientist, diplomat, and business strategist, as well as one of its most practical and ingenious political leaders. He explores the wit behind Poor Richard's Almanac and the wisdom behind the Declaration of Independence, the new nation's alliance with France, the treaty that ended the Revolution, and the compromises that created a near-perfect Constitution. In this colorful and intimate narrative, Isaacson provides the full sweep of Franklin's amazing life, showing how he helped to forge the American national identity and why he has a particular resonance in the twenty-first century.… (mehr)
Kürzlich hinzugefügt vonprivate Bibliothek, manxy, mra88, booksonthebayou, nanaomiruth, minickbd, Lkingsley, davejohnson, RichfieldUMC, mcharbel32
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5752. Benjamin Franklin An American Life, by Walter Isaacson (read 23 Jul 2021) I read on 8 Dec 1991 The Wise Men, of which Isaacson was the co-author, and on 8 May 2007 Isaacson's life of Einstein and found both books excellent. This biography of Franklin is also very carefully researched and well-written. Franklin was born 17 Jan 1706 in Boston, in 1723 ran away to Philadelphia, was a printer, an inventor, and a statesman, signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, signed the peace treaty ending the Revolution, was at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, and died 17 Apr 1790. There are things in his life not too admirable but on balance he served his country well and deserves to be revered as an important Founding Father. ( )
  Schmerguls | Jul 23, 2021 |
Well written, interesting details, provides the information and some interpretation but there is enough original source information the reader can decide whether they believe the interpretation or have a different one. ( )
  TanyaRead | May 3, 2021 |
I enjoyed this biography a great deal...as I always do when reading books by Water Isaacson. I especially liked the way Mr. Isaacson reconciled different views of Benjamin Franklin at the end of the book. The book was well researched and presented a balanced view.

Benjamin Franklin was a fascinating person, with a broad range of interests and always blending curiosity with a strong sense of practicality. I think he would be saddened by the lack of compromise that is dividing U.S. political parties today.

Mr. Franklin accomplished so much, and had so many friends and admirers. He was a great man, unless you happened to be his wife or child. Why is it that so many great people seem to let their families down? ( )
  LynnB | Mar 2, 2021 |
This is a biography which takes us through the events of a long and glorious life and emphasizes the interpersonal and tries to fathom the whys. Is that the measure of a man? Especially an exceptional man. After a while it was just more of the same, even if there were turns in the course. The really good part is the last twenty pages, after Franklin's death where Isaacson tries to reconcile the different ways that historians and others have viewed the same man we just spent almost 500 pages learning about. That's the fascinating part of this book. I almost wish this part was at the very start of the book rather than the end. Then we could have been unraveling a mystery rather than continually jumping to the next phase of a varied career. I was amazed to learn in last fifty pages that Franklin had one of, if not the, largest private libraries in the country, close to 5000 books. Yes it was not an event that created it, but it was a man like no other. By the end I wished there was more attention to the scientific achievements. Yes they were cited but if Franklin was like most inventors there must have been many blind alleys before the ah ha moment. I would have liked to know more about them. ( )
  Ed_Schneider | Nov 29, 2020 |
Another view reminding us that all people are human with both strengths and weaknesses. I find it exceedingly interesting that some people succeed regardless of their faults, and others of us let our faults dominate. ([b:Now, Discover Your Strengths|56452|Now, Discover Your Strengths|Marcus Buckingham|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1347484398s/56452.jpg|1045276])

Here are a few things that caught my attention as I read this book.

"Franklin later concluded that the loss of money he was owed was balanced by the loss of the burden of having Ralph as a friend. A pattern was emerging. ... Franklin easily made casual friends, intellectual companions, useful patrons, flirty admirers, and circles of genial acquaintances, but he was less good at nurturing lasting bonds that involved deep personal commitments or emotional relationships, even within his own family. (Page 44)

"When an Indian child has been brought among us,taught our language and habituated to our customers, yet if he goes to see his relations and make one Indian ramble with them , there is no persuading him ever to return." (Page 153)

One Parisian, who added the perfect French complement about his love of silence: "He knew how to be impolite without being rude." (Page 328)

"Franklin had won, … The greatest diplomatic victory the United States has ever achieved."… [That] partially points out the paucity of American successes over the years at bargaining tables," (Page 349)

He was a sociable man who liked clubs that offered enlightening conversations and activities, but the friendships he formed with his fellow men were more affable than intimate. He had a genial affection for his wife, but not enough love to prevent him from spending 15 of the last 17 years of their marriage an ocean away… With his many women admirers, he preferred flirting rather than making serious commitments, and he retreated into playful detachment at any sign of danger. (Page 487)

I found it interesting that his years in England was portrayed as politically unsuccessful, but in France he was eminently successful at winning the hearts of the country and negotiating agreements and treaties both with France and with England.

Chapter 18 describes shifting opinions of America regarding Franklin over the decades. Some decades he is in favor and some decades he is out of favor. This chapter reminds me that an assessment of a historical character is continually shifting. The current values of the society determine who they hold in esteem and who they scorn. ( )
  bread2u | Jul 1, 2020 |
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AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Walter IsaacsonHauptautoralle Ausgabenberechnet
Gaines, BoydErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Runger, NelsonErzählerCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
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His arrival in Philadelphia is one of the most famous scenes in autobiographical literature: The bedraggled 17-year-old runaway, cheeky yet with a pretense of humility, straggling off the boat and buying three puffy rolls as he wanders up Market Street.
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In this authoritative and engrossing full-scale biography, Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of Einstein and Steve Jobs, shows how the most fascinating of America's founders helped define our national character. Benjamin Franklin is the founding father who winks at us, the one who seems made of flesh rather than marble. In a sweeping narrative that follows Franklin's life from Boston to Philadelphia to London and Paris and back, Walter Isaacson chronicles the adventures of the runaway apprentice who became, over the course of his eighty-four-year life, America's best writer, inventor, media baron, scientist, diplomat, and business strategist, as well as one of its most practical and ingenious political leaders. He explores the wit behind Poor Richard's Almanac and the wisdom behind the Declaration of Independence, the new nation's alliance with France, the treaty that ended the Revolution, and the compromises that created a near-perfect Constitution. In this colorful and intimate narrative, Isaacson provides the full sweep of Franklin's amazing life, showing how he helped to forge the American national identity and why he has a particular resonance in the twenty-first century.

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