Walter Isaacson, University Professor of History at Tulane, has been CEO of the Aspen Institute, chairman of CNN, and editor of Time magazine. 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. Facebook: Walter Isaacson, Twitter: @WalterIsaacson
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.
A former Time magazine managing editor and former CNN chair/CEO, now serving as Aspen Institute president, Isaacson (Kissinger: A Biography) here presents what he calls "a chronological narrative biography" of Benjamin Franklin. The result is an admirable work that takes its place among recently acclaimed biographies by H.W. Brands and Edmund Morgan as one with special appeal to a general audience. Isaacson considers the social activist and historical actor, focusing on Franklin as "a civic-minded man" who expressed the virtues and values of a rising middle class, America's new ruling class of ordinary citizens. He also highlights Franklin's personal relations with numerous individuals-including his common-law wife, Deborah Read-his famous moments and achievements, e.g., the kite-flying electricity experiment, and his evolving social thought on a range of issues, including slavery. Isaacson serves the needs of nonspecialists with three helpful sections: a "Chronology" of Franklin's life, a "Cast of Characters" of the most important men and women Franklin knew, and "Currency Conversions." A fine addition to the Franklin literature, this book is recommended mainly for public libraries.-Charles L. Lumpkins, Pennsylvania State Univ., State College Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"The Washington Post Book World" The most readable full-length
Franklin biography available.
"The New York Times Book Review" A thoroughly researched, crisply written, convincingly argued chronicle.
"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.