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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  31,015 Ratings  ·  1,751 Reviews
This new edition of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is built around J.A. Leo Lemay and P.R. Zall's text. Louis Masur's introduction sets the work in its historical context. Masur also discusses America after Franklin and why the autobiography has had such a tremendous impact on 19th- and 20th-century society and culture.
Paperback, 175 pages
Published January 1st 1993 by Bedford Books (first published 1791)
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Denise Kawaii There is a free edition in the Kindle store.
http://amzn.com/B0083Z40N2

I only knew because I'm reading it now and I know I didn't pay for it when I…more
There is a free edition in the Kindle store.
http://amzn.com/B0083Z40N2

I only knew because I'm reading it now and I know I didn't pay for it when I downloaded it.(less)
Rebecca Yes, but you have to catch the fish to feed it every day. And no one is going to stop the elephant from stepping on it if you leave it out of its…moreYes, but you have to catch the fish to feed it every day. And no one is going to stop the elephant from stepping on it if you leave it out of its cage. :)(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Darwin8u
Jan 19, 2016 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
“...there will be sleeping enough in the grave....”
- Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

description

Even in death, I can't imagine Franklin resting. There is always just too much to do, too many questions to ask, too many books to read, too much to explore.

My brother recommended this book to me about 30 years ago. I'm not sure why I never read it until now. Part of it must be the feeling that Benjamin Franklin would always just be there. He wasn't going anywhere. He seems to permeate
...more
Trevor
Sep 08, 2012 Trevor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
This is a curious little book. As an autobiography it suffers from the fact that it leaves out nearly all of the most interesting parts of Franklin’s life. This is a bit like reading an autobiography of John Lennon that ends a few years before he meets Paul McCartney. I’m not saying there is no interest in what is here, but any sort of version of such a man’s life that ends well short of the American Revolution is more than a little heart breaking.

There are very amusing parts of this – particula
...more
Isis
May 08, 2009 Isis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of early-mid 18th century
The charm and pleasure of this book, for me, is that it is not about the famous Benjamin Franklin, the inventor and one of the fathers of the American Revolution, but that it is about the young Franklin; about his education and apprenticeship as a printer to his brother, about his love of books and his determination to improve his writing skills, about how he uprooted himself from his birthplace and family and moved to Philadelphia, and began a business there. He meets rogues and swindlers, has ...more
Shannon
Mar 15, 2009 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Man oh man, that dude had some mad skills. This book is written somewhat sloppily - changing narrative styles throughout, carrying on from time to time, and not even finishing it - but the content is truly amazing. Why didn't I learn in school about how awesome Ben Franklin was? In addition to his kite flying escapade, he invented a better type of wood burning furnace, and a better street lamp. He created the first public university in America (U. Penn), helped create one of the first public hos ...more
Ilyn Ross
Aug 01, 2009 Ilyn Ross rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Dr. Benjamin Franklin is the embodiment of Thomas Edison’s “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” He came from a poor family. His sensible father was of good character. Dr. Franklin was a deist. What God has given man, he purposefully, methodically, and continually used to improve himself. A self-driven independent thinker, he endeavored to improve, not only mentally and financially, but morally. He did it for his own sake, and the fruits became the glory of mankind.

Dr. Franklin resol
...more
Bruce
Aug 25, 2010 Bruce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book as a teenager and was so captivated that I tried Franklin’s scheme of cultivating the virtues, probably with only marginal success. It was fun to reacquaint myself with the work.

Franklin first of all affirms that he would live his life over again unchanged, were he given the opportunity. Compare this with Nietzsche’s assertion that such would be repugnant to most men. Thus one can see that Franklin was essentially a content and optimistic man. This book is a candid and non-flor
...more
James
Aug 31, 2011 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the summer of 1771, while he was living in a country home in England, Benjamin Franklin began an autobiography that he was destined to never finish. He prepared an outline of a final section that he did not complete, but the four parts that he did finish represent one of the seminal documents of the enlightenment.
He was a statesman, an author, an inventor, a scientist, a printer, and the list goes on and on when describing Benjamin Franklin. As an autobiographer he also demonstrated his geni
...more
Holly
Mar 02, 2008 Holly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderfully inspiring Read. It's a small book packed with great insights into virtuous living. His curiosity and observation of the world around him lead him to live an amazingly full life in which he accomplished much for the good of mankind. All this combined with his wit and writing style make it enjoyable to read and truly encourages the reader towards self improvement. I'm actually reading it again right now. It's great for new year's resolutions.
Jan Rice
May 13, 2013 Jan Rice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was exciting, once I found out it really was his autobiography! I couldn't believe it at 1st. Turned out to be divided roughly into two parts, the 1st starting with his family history and younger years, and the second coming later after a break. He was in his 80s, and his public had encouraged him to continue. The 2nd part is a little slower but still informative. The book is not very long, not a huge tome. It stops all of a sudden, before the revolutionary years. Maybe he just couldn't fin ...more
Henry Avila
Jul 17, 2011 Henry Avila rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Benjamin Franklin's autobiography is perfect except for one thing, its only half finished!Franklin was prevented from completing it, by becoming involved in the American Revolution.Later going as a diplomat to Paris, to get French help.Born in Boston in 1706, to Josiah Franklin and his wife Abiah. A good student in his youth but the family lacked the money to send him to college. His father was a candle maker and Benjamin after many false starts became an apprentice to his brother James in the p ...more
Niesha
Jan 25, 2008 Niesha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Niesha by: Heidi Shetka
There is so much to learn from Benjamin Franklin and his autobiography and other writings. Please read it yourself. It is well worth your time. I was inspired by his genius, curiosity in all subjects and in people.
Michael
Oct 13, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
People do not fall into the category of 'great' by chance or triviality. Ben Franklin worked to improve himself, his community, and the lives of those with whom he shared his existence. He set an example of honesty, hard work, sobriety, fair dealing, and generosity that has been a light on the path of millions. His example seems to me exactly what is needed today.

Reading this book was a joy. It's cool too to note the differences in writing style and spelling he used. Just two examples..."musik"
...more
Joe
Jul 14, 2015 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I have always been very skeptical of self-help books. I read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey on the recommendation of a friend. Covey openly admitted that Benjamin Franklin's autobiography guided his ideas. So, I decided to go right to the source.

There is no better life book, and it is so effective because it does not seek to be a self-help book. This autobiography is really just a look into the life of a person who sought only improvement in his own person and enga
...more
Kim
I really enjoyed this book far more than I anticipated. I've read a lot about Benjamin Franklin but to read his story in his own words makes it really come to life.

He had a very down-to-earth writing style. I know that some of the words would have been modernised a little at some point in the publication history but you still get a very 18th century style without it bogging down with a lot of needless filler.

My problem with this book though is that there was quite a lot not included. He writes
...more
KatieMc
I have a love/hate relationship with one of my book clubs. I love to hate the books they choose. And this one I was determined to hate. Funny thing though, I can't hate this book. In the age of self aggrandizing ghost-written puff-piece memoirs, this was refreshingly humble. Which is ironic because Ben Franklin kind of seems full of himself. Of course, it ends around 1757 when he was a merely middle aged and well before many of the historical juicy bits really happen.

The phrasing and vocabulary
...more
Josh
I liked this, and found it a surprising page-turner.

I really enjoyed the old fashioned language after getting used to it. Normally, I resist using puffed-up language and always try to find mundane equivalents for words I might naturally use or words that might be slightly more precise. So I thought it wd annoy me that Franklin’s language was unnecessarily elevated and abstract. But it didn't mess with me, I really enjoyed the diction and syntax, reminded me of reading _Cloud Atlas_, where a fict
...more
Hadeel
Jan 08, 2013 Hadeel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin was written for his son as a guide for him to lead a righteous life and became a book where he recollected all his memories. The book opened up with a letter to William Franklin, Benjamin Franklin’s son, Royal Governor of New Jersey. He spoke about his ancestry, childhood experiences and education. He was self-educated and had a strong work ethic because Benjamin and his nine brothers began working early. He went to England Briefly and worked as a printer w ...more
Izumen
Тази книга е чисто злато! Ако зависеше от мен, бих я включил в задължителната учебна програма. Всеки млад мъж трябва да я прочете. Б. Франклин разказва с много тънко чувство за хумор, покривайки основните етапи от своето развитие до 50 г. възраст. Може би най-ценните страници са тези за неговата младост, защото именно тогава се изгражда бъдещия гений и как мислите става това? Здрава работа, постоянство, железни принципи и много, много четене на книги. Франклин е един от най-съвършените примери з ...more
Kressel Housman
Because of the movie "American Treasure" and the plot sequence involving Benjamin Franklin's Silence Dogood letters (a series of letters he published under a pseudonym at age 16), my youngest son became interested in him and picked out a biography for me to read aloud at night. That biography, written for kids, cites its main source as Ben Franklin's autobiography, so I figured it was high time I read that American classic.

I'll admit it: the old-fashioned language of the original is daunting and
...more
Lauren
Jan 19, 2015 Lauren rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Benjamin Franklin as a person was a scientist, diplomat, legislator, inventor, and a proficient statesman. In his eighty-two years, he lived a very full life and accomplished many great achievements, probably his greatest triumph being that of discovering the phenomenon of electricity and how to control it. Franklin was also a skilled politician and pretty much gained accomplishments in whatever he strove to do. In The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Franklin has a very pompous attitude towa ...more
Laura
The first half was terrific, and the second half fell (for the most part) flat for me. I think it's because Franklin started writing to his son about his life and wound up being persuaded to continue the book as an autobiography for public consumption. Unfortunately, that sucked all the life out of it.

If you're a fan of Ben, definitely read it. I loved the first half. The second half, for me, became too bogged down in military discussions (and he died prior to covering the Revolutionary War), w
...more
Jeremy
Sep 27, 2015 Jeremy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Franklin's life was completely nuts. And while his image has become little more than a goofy caricature in our age, the times that he lived and worked in were fraught with bizarre religious strife, nascent colonial revolutionary sentiment, doomed military expeditions, and kooky scientific/technological explorations.

America is first and foremost, a WEIRD place. Always has been. Always will be. And Ben Franklin, more than any other founding figure, apothasizes and simultaneously transcends that we
...more
Mary Pat
May 08, 2015 Mary Pat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Advice from Old Ben

If you want to know about the events of Ben Franklin's life, seek a different book. That is not the primary focus of this book, and much of what old Ben details will probably seem tedious or trivial compared to the Revolution....which the book stops twenty years shy of.

Autobiography deals with what the subject himself thinks important for others to know, and what Franklin pays a lot of time on in this book is advice. For those looking for it, there is advice on how to persuade
...more
Maq Khan
Apr 11, 2015 Maq Khan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Appreciate the hard working of Benjamin Franklin.today who works hard like him or who is honest?.
Samantha
Apr 19, 2013 Samantha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, audiobook
This was a very interesting and informative book made up of letters from Benjamin Franklin to his son over the course of several decades. I listened to it on audiobook which was neat because I sometimes felt like Franklin was sitting right next to me sharing stories of his life. Given the personal letter style, I felt like he became a friend rather than just someone I was reading about. Franklin shares what he learned from his long and active life not hesitating to admit where he made mistakes t ...more
Jessica
Mar 17, 2011 Jessica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Benjamin Franklin invented the American Fire Department, wood stoves, and the American system of government. You would think, then, that he'd invent some way of writing an autobiography that wasn't boring as hell. But no. Franklin loves his books, and he also loves self-improvement (the best parts of this are his bizarre charts where he rates himself on a 13-point scale of morality). But despite all of his attention to rhetoric this book does not, in my opinion, rise to the occasion of chronicli ...more
Nicholas Maulucci
now this was interesting although I expected it to be a little more extensive. an American classic from one of the first Americans. not an easy read, but if one concentrates he will find gold nuggets throughout this book. of course reading and listening to something are two distinct functions (Gordon), and you may find yourself again and again stopping and wondering about a word and its meaning. Franklin recounts his youth, his love for books, his start in business, and some of his experiments. ...more
Katie
Dec 27, 2015 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm really glad I happened upon this and decided to try it on a whim. While I don't think B Franklin was a perfect fellow (far from it), he seemed to have a truly remarkable mind and I loved getting to see how his thought process worked. It was a fascinating snapshot into life in the 1700s, what has changed and what remains the same, lessons he learned through life, and history I had been ignorant of learning. It was really quite inspiring in many ways.
Morgan Duplechin
What I thought was really interesting about this book is that even though Benjamin Franklin did tons of amazing things he either doesn't mention them or he barely talks about it. Instead he tells about his daily life, his values, and his friends and family. I always read about Benjamin Franklin in textbooks and I never really learned much about his character and values. It was interesting to learn about the way he thought about things and I think everyone can learn something from reading his aut ...more
Jay
May 17, 2015 Jay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, audiobook
Benjamin Franklin’s volume of the Library of America is I believe the longest volume they created – so long that new versions divide it up into two books. Without having investigated, I assumed it was because a part of the book, his Autobiography, was long. As I learned when listening to the audio version of Franklin’s autobiography, that’s not right. This is a short book given what it covers. It is shorter still because it ends before the Revolutionary War. And even then, the ending is abrupt, ...more
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Benjamin Franklin was a writer, a philosopher, a scientist, a politician, a patriot, a Founding Father, an inventor, and publisher. He helped with the founding of the United States of America and changed the world with his discoveries about electricity. His writings such as Poor Richards' Almanac have provided wisdom for 17 years to the colonies.
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“Never confuse Motion with Action.” 243 likes
“...there will be sleeping enough in the grave....” 44 likes
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