Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin : An American Life

4.01 (128,767 ratings by Goodreads)
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During his 84-year life Benjamin Franklin was America's best scientist, inventor, publisher, business strategist, diplomat, and writer. He was also one of its most practical political thinkers. America's first great publicist, he carefully crafted his own persona, portrayed it in public and polished it for posterity. In this riveting new biography Walter Isaacson provides readers with a full portrait of Franklin's public and private life - his loyal but neglected wife, his bastard son with whom he broke over going to war with England, his endless replacement families and his many amorous, but probably unconsummated, liaisons. But this is not just a biography of Benjamin Franklin but rather a fascinating look at American and European political history at that time. Isaacson examines the run up to the Revolutionary war, the intimate relations between Britain, France and the colonies and the decisive events that led to America's independence. Just as David McCullough brought life to the historic figure of John Adams, Isaacson portrays Franklin in the flesh, showing readers how this radical man helped define America's national character and personality.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 608 pages
  • 159 x 235 x 43mm | 966g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 16pp 4-c insert; printed endpapers; rough front
  • 0684807610
  • 9780684807614
  • 112,681

Table of contents


Chapter One

Benjamin Franklin and the Invention of America

Chapter Two

Pilgrim's Progress: Boston, 1706-1723

Chapter Three

Journeyman: Philadelphia and London, 1723-1726

Chapter Four

Printer: Philadelphia, 1726-1732

Chapter Five

Public Citizen: Philadelphia, 1731-1748

Chapter Six

Scientist and Inventor: Philadelphia, 1744-1751

Chapter Seven

Politician: Philadelphia, 1749-1756

Chapter Eight

Troubled Waters: London, 1757-1762

Chapter Nine

Home Leave: Philadelphia, 1763-1764

Chapter Ten

Agent Provocateur: London, 1765-1770

Chapter Eleven

Rebel: London, 1771-1775

Chapter Twelve

Independence: Philadelphia, 1775-1776

Chapter Thirteen

Courtier: Paris, 1776-1778

Chapter Fourteen

Bon Vivant: Paris, 1778-1785

Chapter Fifteen

Peacemaker: Paris, 1778-1785

Chapter Sixteen

Sage: Philadelphia, 1785-1790

Chapter Seventeen


Chapter Eighteen


Cast of Characters


Currency Conversions


Sources and Abbreviations


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Review quote

"The New York Times Book Review" A thoroughly researched, crisply written, convincingly argued chronicle.
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About Walter Isaacson

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
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Rating details

128,767 ratings
4.01 out of 5 stars
5 41% (52,742)
4 33% (42,684)
3 16% (21,025)
2 5% (6,417)
1 5% (5,899)
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