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The Autobiography and Other Writings

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  1,425 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
One of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, Benjamin Franklin was a true Renaissance Man: writer, publisher, scientist, inventor, diplomat and politician. In his long life of eighty-four years, he offered advice on attaining wealth, organized public institutions, contributed to the birth of a nation, and negotiated with foreign powers to ensure its surviva ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 1st 2001 by Signet Classics (first published January 1st 1791)
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Jul 25, 2008 Natalie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Am I the only one who has a hard time enjoying listening to someone who clearly loves himself so dearly go on and on and on about himself? I mean, he wrote like 46 autobiographies. Sure he may have been a genius, but I'd just as soon other people tell me about it.
Kendel Christensen
Mar 08, 2011 Kendel Christensen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Kendel by: Julia Shumway
Shelves: for-posterity
This book, though obviously an unfinished work from Franklin's life, is a gem. Is so open, so unassuming, as to make one forget that we are being tutored by one of the greatest diplomats of all time. It feels like reading a neighbor's personal blog. It is full of words to live by. Such as:

“the wisest man will receive lights and improve his progress, by seeing detailed the conduct of another wise man.”
(Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography, 59-60)

“I made it a Rule to forbear all direct Contradiction
Jose Gaona
Nov 19, 2014 Jose Gaona rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: no-ficción

(...) "Se trata de un relato que va de más a menos en intensidad y cuyo interés se diluye como un azucarillo. Además, no incluye los momentos más interesantes de la vida del protagonista, como son los relacionados con la declaración de independencia. Y porque, con todo, uno no puede dejar de tener la sensación de que el personaje ha sido glorificado, enaltecido e hinchado como modelo de conducta a raíz de su importancia como figura mítica en la constitució
Mar 18, 2013 angie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know why but I get a real kick out of reading Ben Franklin. Not only are you getting opinions and observations straight from the horse's mouth when it comes to the 18th century, you're getting it from an oddly amusing and very pivotal figure in American history. What first appears quite stuffy is actually great entertainment...
Aug 23, 2010 Barbara rated it it was amazing
Supposedly, I am a distant descendent of Ben Franklin so when I saw this used book, I picked it up for $1. My thinking was that the autobiographical writings might be of interest since I would be reading what Benjamin, himself, wrote. I wasn't disappointed. Being a writer (among many other things) by profession, he chronicled his life from early boyhood to old age in a letter to his son. This letter was fun and I totally enjoyed it but it only encompassed 181 pages of the book. Other writings fo ...more
Dec 13, 2016 Nuska rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
"Y, dada la posición de los Estados Unidos, como punto de referencia económico, político y cultural, el influjo sobre los Estados Unidos se convierte pronto en el influjo de los Estados Unidos sobre otros países y culturas. No puede comprenderse el mundo occidental de hoy sin una referencia a los Estados Unidos; y no puede comprenderse gran parte de la 'mentalidad norteamericana' sin hacer referencia a Franklin". (4).

"Sin embargo, sus escritos más difundidos han dado lugar a que sea hoy conside
Oct 08, 2013 Dustin rated it really liked it
A fascinating read. The autobiography benefits tremendously from being written as a letter to his son, as the conversational tone makes it easy to read and gives you a sense of Ben Franklin as a person. The back half of the book is selected writings of Franklin's on a variety of topics from family life to science to diplomacy.
I'd heartily recommend this.
One of the stories that I like from his autobiography is when he decides not to drink beer while working as a printer in London and all the other printers in the workshop are mystified why he doesn't make any type setting mistakes in the afternoon like they do.
After multiple readings of this book, I have to say that I am coming to agree with DH Lawrence's assessment of Franklin (quite possible the only thing I agree with him about). "I admire him.... I do not like him." Franklin is the quintessential American, getting on in the world, active in affairs, inventing, politicking, organizing, reading, but never really thinking all that much. Oh, he claims his library increased the thinking of Americans. Yes, he wrote many things and connected lightning an ...more
Apr 20, 2013 Sunil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to believe
he never fucked up.
Sadie Stone
Sadie Stone
Book Review #5
In Benjamin Franklins "Autobiography and other Writings" book, I was captured back in time to when Benjamin Franklin lived. Benjamin Franklin was a very accomplished man, and had many accomplishments in his life. Franklin was one of the founding fathers of our nation, and contributed to the development of our nation.
One thing that I really liked throughout Benjamin Franklins writing, is his use of vocabulary. There are many examples of this in his autobiography. "Its
Miguel Morales
Dec 18, 2016 Miguel Morales rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Para mi persona, uno de los mejores libros que he leído. Si bien carece de forma, pues son unas series de cartas que, al final, no concluyen con la vida de Franklin, no deja de ser una experiencia maravillosa que enseña mucho sobre el fundador del espíritu capitalista, el que se basa en la laboriosidad, la frugalidad, y la multiplicación del capital.

Franklin, tan regido por sus virtudes, comete durante su vida muchas contrariedades que no intentó ocultar. A cambio, documenta estos hechos.

Lo únic
Mar 11, 2017 Paramjeet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book can be divided into two parts, the first part contains the autobiography part which is filled with inventions he made during his scientific career. He had mentioned more about the people that he met. In the second part he has talked about his experiments, his various letter to people (one letter which has been written in the form of constitution portrays the relationship between husband and wife is on the lighter note). Overall this book can be termed as the right mix of description of ...more
Darla Stokes
This was full of interesting anecdotes, but not as much insight into the man and his times as I'd hoped.
Feb 06, 2012 Ami rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
This was a delightful experience. I'm amazed at how much more modern his writing seems than I'd have previously thought. Franklin turns a witty phrase, and I read with a dictionary close by, but it was in no way dense. His account of how he taught himself to be a more skillful writer by imitating admired works, shuffling & reordering passages, etc. was fascinating. Later, he dares to edit lines of a Pope poem!

The introduction by a Franklin scholar is a helpful key to interpreting the man's m
Elena T.
Sep 19, 2016 Elena T. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Chi è pronto a dar via le proprie libertà fondamentali per comprarsi briciole di temporanea sicurezza, non merita né la libertà né la sicurezza" .

Personaggio affascinante Franklin, del quale volevo apprendere qualche nozione in più. E cosa c'è di meglio dell'autobiografia che persino il Times segnala come must-read?

Lettura assai interessante, era lì che mi aspettava da quando Ichabod Crane parlava di Franklin e della massoneria nella prima stagione di Sleepy Hollow :-)
Mar 01, 2010 Jessica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
This was one of the hardest books to get through but it was pretty interesting to learn so much more about one of the great men who shaped America. I always knew Ben Franklin did a lot of things but I really had no idea how much he managed to accomplish in his lifetime. He was one of the early supporters of uniting the 13 colonies into one nation which was new info to me. I knew about bifocals and electricity, but I didn't know about the library, hospital, militia, and university he founded. I l ...more
Hanna Numbers
Benjamin Franklin's autobiography is a VERY uninteresting book.

As you may know, Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod and signed the Declaration of Independence. This book goes more into detail about his life and his opinion of things, although some of this is written in the form of letters which I find incredibly boring and could not stay interested. Included in this book is part of his journal in which he writes about his sea travels. This is not interesting at all though. He mostly tal
Franklin was the foremost scientist on the planet in 1750. And that is just a small facet of a great man. His autobiography provides a great insight into the life and times of colonial America, in which he played a leading part. One gets a first hand look at the French and Indian [Seven Years':] War, as fought in North America on the administrative front.
What is surprising is the self-absorbtion of Franklin himself. One sees a man who is totally consumed with himself, and thinking of himself a
Jan 09, 2016 Cari rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Any book that is only 335 pages and takes me two months to read is probably not one I enjoyed much. I have struggled through though and now I can cross it off the list as being complete!

Mr. Franklin, despite being so lauded and such a revered public figure of American history, failed to endear himself to me through either his own autobiography or through the selected readings of his printings and personal letters. The fact that, by his own admission, he wrote not what was true but what he thoug
Oct 07, 2014 Ollie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Few individuals have obtained the legendary status of Benjamin Franklin. As such, one can only imagine what sort of charming stories are contained in his Autobiography: one of the most widely read books of its time.

Unfortunately, there is not really much delight in reading Franklin’s Autobiography. Though it starts with an interesting account of his childhood, Autobiography mostly reads like Franklin’s life advice. Doubly unfortunate, his advice is so obvious and tedious that it borders on what
First, let me state that I have not read this entire book. I read the autobiography, and aside from possibly going back and reading his advice to a friend on choosing a mistress, it's all I intend to read.

Now, parts of Benjamin Franklin's autobiography were very interesting, particularly when he's initiating fairly new social services for Philadelphia. (i.e.: circulating libraries, volunteer fire departments, and a university). However, I was very disapointed that despite writing in the 1780s,
Michele Cacano
Jul 30, 2011 Michele Cacano rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-non-fic
In short, the autobiographical writings are amazing. Benjamin Franklin has an ease of communication that allows his thoughts and emotions to flow freely from the pen into the minds of even the most modern readers. I find him to be intelligent beyond all expectation, wise beyond his time, and highly entertaining.

The other writings.... well, i am grateful for much of it, as it illuminated circumstances and peripheral information related to Benjamin Franklin's writings. But some of it trudged throu
Patrick McCoy
Benjamin Franklin is a giant of American history-the only man to sign all four major documents of the founding of the United States. He figures in prominently in the John Adams miniseries on HBO, not to mention his Poor Richard and electricity fame. This led me to finally read The Autobiography and Other Writings of Benjamin Franklin. The hallmark of the Penguin Classics are the knowledgeable forwards and carefully edited edition and this one is no exception-Kenneth Silverman has done an excelle ...more
Nov 21, 2013 Ryan rated it liked it
The highlight was his interaction with George Whitefield, and Franklin's ability to laugh at himself as he's won over (to some degree) by the evangelist's startling preaching and oratory. As Whitefield supposed, Franklin seems a likable guy, though an apostate disguised in Christian virtue and self-betterment (along with some others of the early American heroes). In Franklin's words, "He [Whitefield] used, indeed, sometimes to pray for my conversion but never had the satisfaction of believing th ...more
May 19, 2015 Neel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Benjamin Franklin was one of the most influential men of the 1700s. Regardless of it being science, political, and societal, he had a part in it. Franklin was too busy with changing the world that he did not have the time to make an autobiography. This is known to be the reason why it is incomplete. However, the info that was written goes into detail about the experiences as well as thoughts as Franklin witnessed, experienced, and caused change in the world. This book gives a strong sense of the ...more
Nov 26, 2015 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this for school, and I was expecting it to be dull and tedious. I could not have been more wrong! This book was fascinating and surprisingly entertaining. It took several pages for me to get used to the strange spellings, punctuation, and wording, and the capitalization of nearly every noun, but after that I could not put the book down. Franklin was an extraordinary and extremely opinionated person. His autobiography is packed with all his opinions on everything from morality to th ...more
Linda Cowell
I stand amazed at the acomplishments of Benjamin Franklin. He was self taught, having finished only grammer school, yet he initiated the first lending libraries, fire departments, newspaper chains and militias in the "colonies". He designed and built paved streets with drainage and streetlamps. He invented the Franklin stove, an improved design over existing models. As a representative from Pennsylvania to the Assembly of the American Colonies, he introduced a plan for the unification of the col ...more
May 31, 2012 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that could be considered a classic "to read"; and I agree, it is worth the time. Because Franklin has had such a tremendous influence on this country, and could be considered near genius given his additions to invention and thought to society, his autobiography is an important source to not only better understand Franklin, but perhaps the United States as well. That being said, the autobiography reads like Franklin's personal journal (as parts actually are) and as such much of the ...more
Lindsey Sparks
I like that Benjamin Franklin was a list maker. :) I particularly enjoyed his list if virtues to live by and that he felt these were the keys to happiness, health and wealth. They center around moderation and living within your means and felt very much like how I try to live my own life. I also loved the epitaph he wrote for himself, comparing life to the first edition of a book and death to being the revised version once you're raised again. I also felt a connection to him when he talked about ...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.
More about Benjamin Franklin...

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