Benjamin Franklin

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Yale University Press, 2003 M01 1 - 339 pages
10 Reviews
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A New York Times Bestseller

A 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award finalist

A Washington Post Book World, Publisher's Weekly, and Los Angeles Times Book Review Best Book of the Year

"Superb. . . . The best short biography of Franklin ever written."--Gordon Wood, New York Review of Books

"None rivals Morgan's study for its grasp of Franklin's character."--Joseph J. Ellis, London Review of Books

Benjamin Franklin is perhaps the most remarkable figure in American history: the greatest statesman of his age, he played a pivotal role in the formation of the American republic. He was also a pioneering scientist, a bestselling author, the country's first postmaster general, a printer, a bon vivant, a diplomat, a ladies' man, and a moralist--and the most prominent celebrity of the eighteenth century.

Franklin was, however, a man of vast contradictions, as Edmund Morgan demonstrates in this brilliant biography. A reluctant revolutionary, Franklin had desperately wished to preserve the British Empire, and he mourned the break even as he led the fight for American independence. Despite his passion for science, Franklin viewed his groundbreaking experiments as secondary to his civic duties. And although he helped to draft both the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution, he had personally hoped that the new American government would take a different shape. Unraveling the enigma of Franklin's character, Morgan shows that he was the rare individual who consistently placed the public interest before his own desires.

Written by one of our greatest historians and a Pulitzer Prize winner, Benjamin Franklin offers a provocative portrait of America's most extraordinary patriot.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Karlstar - LibraryThing

I picked this book up in the store at the National Archies, which has a great selection of history books and DVD's. I've been wanting to read more Revolution Era history, so this seemed appropriate ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - HistReader - LibraryThing

My first take after beginning this book was the title is misleading. Not because it isn't about Benjamin Franklin, but that it is not simply a biography. But upon further reflection, the title is ... Read full review

Selected pages


An Exciting World
A Dangerous Man
An Empire of Englishmen
Proprietary Pretensions
The Importance of Opinion
Becoming American
Representing a Nation of States
A Difficult Peace
Going Home
Some of the People in Franklins Life

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About the author (2003)

Edmund S. Morgan is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University. He has written more than a dozen books including Inventing the People: The Rise of Popular Sovereignty in England and America, which won the Bancroft Prize, and American Slavery, American Freedom, which won the Francis Parkman Prize and the Albert J. Beveridge Award. Cited as "one of America's most distinguished historians," Morgan was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2000.

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