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Benjamin Franklin


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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



About the Author

Walter Isaacson recently stepped down from his position as chairman and CEO of the CNN News Group. A journalist for more than 25 years, he previously served as Time Inc.'s editorial director and as Time magazine's managing editor, national affairs writer and political correspondent. A graduate of Harvard and Oxford University, where he was a Rhode Scholar, he is the author of Kissinger: A Biography (S&S, 1992) and co-author (with Evan Thomas) of The Wise Men: Six Friends And The World They Made (S&S, 1986).


Most people's mental image of Ben Franklin is that of an aged man with wire-rim glasses and a comb-over, flying a kite in a thunder storm, or of the spirited face that stares back from a one-hundred-dollar bill. Isaacson's (Kissinger) biography does much to remind us of Franklin's amazing depth and breadth. At once a scientist, craftsman, writer, publisher, comic, sage, ladies' man, statesman, diplomat and inventor, Franklin not only wore many hats, but in many cases, did not have an equal. The most intriguing thing he invented, and continued to reinvent, according to Isaacson, was himself. Three-time Tony winner Gaines has an obvious interest and affinity for the material. His delivery of Isaacson's factual yet fascinating biography is informative and friendly with an instructional yet casual tone, like that of a gregarious narrator of an educational film. All things considered, Gaines is a good match for the material. He has the authority to deliver historical facts and the enthusiasm to keep listeners interested. Simultaneous release with the Simon & Schuster hardcover (Forecasts, May 12). (July) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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 New York Times Book Review" A thoroughly researched, crisply written, convincingly argued chronicle.
"The New Yorker" Energetic, entertaining, and worldly.
"The Washington Post Book World" The most readable full-length Franklin biography available.
"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.

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