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. Walter Isaacson, born on 20th May, , in Louisiana, is an American journalist and detailed account of Franklin's life, right from his journey to Philadelphia. Franklin: Writings, edited by J.A. Leo. Lemay. (New York: The Library of America, ). Isaacson, Walter. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life. (New York.
|Language:||English, Spanish, French|
|Distribution:||Free* [*Register to download]|
Benjamin Franklin: an American life. byIsaacson, Walter. Publication date Borrow this book to access EPUB and PDF files. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life to download this book the link is on authoritative and engrossing full-scale biography, Walter Isaacson. Walter Isaacson writes with great vitality, intelligence, and a clear-eyed Benjamin Franklin: An American Life is a thoroughly researched, crisply written.
Isaacson is a Professor of History at Tulane University and a major modern biographer. We featured the last one on our list of the best 15 biographies in history.
It gets even more fascinating: Benjamin Franklin spent just two years learning at a local school, between the age of 8 and In addition to the 7 from his previous marriage! So, at a very early age, Ben started working as an apprentice under his older brother James, who was a printer. And he was still a teenager when he started to think about owning a business himself.
However, what interested him even more was writing. Silence Dogood! He had a curious mind , and he liked to try to understand everything around him. For example, in his time, many people believed that lighting is something supernatural.
Scientists adored his brilliant solution via a simple experiment; religious people thought him nothing short of the devil. Hey — even Immanuel Kant blamed him for playing some sort of a god!
In , he established a private voluntary militia and got an interesting political idea: federalism. But, what finally did it was the Stamp Act of And he found out this the hard way: while he was in England, a mob attacked his house, and his wife, armed with a rifle, barely survived!
He helped invent America's unique style of homespun humor and philosophical pragmatism.
In foreign policy, he created an approach that wove together idealism with balance-of-power realism. And in politics, he proposed seminal plans for uniting the colonies and creating a federal model for a national government. But the most interesting thing that Franklin invented, and continually reinvented, was himself. America's first great publicist, he was, in his life and in his writings, consciously trying to create a new American archetype. In the process, he carefully crafted his own persona, portrayed it in public, and polished it for posterity.
Partly, it was a matter of image. As a young printer in Philadelphia, he carted rolls of paper through the streets to give the appearance of being industrious. As an old diplomat in France, he wore a fur cap to portray the role of backwoods sage. In between, he created an image for himself as a simple yet striving tradesman, assiduously honing the virtues -- diligence, frugality, honesty -- of a good shopkeeper and beneficent member of his community.
But the image he created was rooted in reality. Born and bred a member of the leather-aproned class, Franklin was, at least for most of his life, more comfortable with artisans and thinkers than with the established elite, and he was allergic to the pomp and perks of a hereditary aristocracy.
Throughout his life he would refer to himself as "B. Franklin, printer. Instinctively more comfortable with democracy than were some of his fellow founders, and devoid of the snobbery that later critics would feel toward his own shopkeeping values, he had faith in the wisdom of the common man and felt that a new nation would draw its strength from what he called "the middling people. The complex interplay among various facets of Franklin's character -- his ingenuity and unreflective wisdom, his Protestant ethic divorced from dogma, the principles he held firm and those he was willing to compromise -- means that each new look at him reflects and refracts the nation's changing values.
He has been vilified in romantic periods and lionized in entrepreneurial ones. Each era appraises him anew, and in doing so reveals some assessments of itself. Franklin has a particular resonance in twenty-first-century America. A successful publisher and consummate networker with an inventive curiosity, he would have felt right at home in the information revolution, and his unabashed striving to be part of an upwardly mobile meritocracy made him, in social critic David Brooks's phrase, "our founding Yuppie.
He would laugh at the latest joke about a priest and a rabbi, or about a farmer's daughter. We would admire both his earnestness and his self-aware irony. And we would relate to the way he tried to balance, sometimes uneasily, the pursuit of reputation, wealth, earthly virtues, and spiritual values. Some who see the reflection of Franklin in the world today fret about a shallowness of soul and a spiritual complacency that seem to permeate a culture of materialism.
They say that he teaches us how to live a practical and pecuniary life, but not an exalted existence. Others see the same reflection and admire the basic middle-class values and democratic sentiments that now seem under assault from elitists, radicals, reactionaries, and other bashers of the bourgeoisie.
They regard Franklin as an exemplar of the personal character and civic virtue that are too often missing in modern America.
Much of the admiration is warranted, and so too are some of the qualms. But the lessons from Franklin's life are more complex than those usually drawn by either his fans or his foes.
Both sides too often confuse him with the striving pilgrim he portrayed in his autobiography. They mistake his genial moral maxims for the fundamental faiths that motivated his actions.
His morality was built on a sincere belief in leading a virtuous life, serving the country he loved, and hoping to achieve salvation through good works. That led him to make the link between private virtue and civic virtue, and to suspect, based on the meager evidence he could muster about God's will, that these earthly virtues were linked to heavenly ones as well.
As he put it in the motto for the library he founded, "To pour forth benefits for the common good is divine. In some ways it was, but it was also genuine.
Through most of the discussions he seeks to gain for the colonies equal standing in Britain, though eventually it becomes clear the only course of action is for the colonies to break with the Empire. He suffers a humiliating defeat in the Cockpit of the King's court, and in later years will wear the same suit when he triumphantly brings about the French treaty.
During his second stint in London Deborah dies, and he does not return though William begs him.
As the Revolution erupts Franklin is made Postmaster and has to devise a route to include Canada. William remains a Royalist and father and son irrevocably split. In he is sent to France to solicit French aid in the American conflict. He is a celebrity in France because of his famed lightening rod and plays well the roles of politician and backwoods sage, even famously donning a fur cap and plain clothes.
He is notoriously flirtatious and forms relationships with notable Frenchwomen. He negotiates France's aid by playing France and Britain off one another, and later helps solidify the peace agreement with Britain after the war is decided.