The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin
He was the foremost American of his day, yet today he is little more than a mythic caricature in the public imagination. Benjamin Franklin, perhaps the pivotal figure in colonial and revolutionary America, comes vividly to life in this masterly biography.
Wit, diplomat, scientist, philosopher, businessman, inventor, and bon vivant, Benjamin Franklin was i ...more
By the title, Brands makes the case that it is Franklin who most deserves the credit for the steps that led to the creation of the American republic. Washington, of course, deserves the credit for winning the war, but who got ...more
Like most people, I've known of Franklin all my life (well, less about 6 years). And, like most people, I also knew he flew a kite in an electrical storm (which seems rather foolhardy to down-right-dangerous, if you understand what the quantity of power in a typical lightning strike is), invent ...more
Update: Turns out I'm not a big fan of the Vook format, at least for recreational reading. I suppose I'm too retro, equate reading with "quiet time."
I like taking books, and ebooks, to public places. Unless I want to wear earbuds, I'm not co ...more
The biographer also makes a very compelling argument that Ben Franklin was the most indispensable figure in the American Revolutionary adventure. Or at least tied with Washington.
Most historians agree that without George Washington, there's nobody else who could've stepped forward to successfully keep an army together, miraculously beat the most powerful country i ...more
Ok all my excuses are finished, what about the book. I personally prefer learning about history through the lens of biography. Given ...more
The other thing that was interesting to me about this book was seeing the events of the American birth play out as they did. I think we credit our country to this philosophical and moral giants...when in reality(t ...more
This is a book which requires concentrated time if you want to take in all of the information included in this book. Whenever I pick it up to read a chapter, I am completely engrossed and lose track of time.
Actually, my favorite part of the book was before the revolution when his attention was devoted more to science and inventions, and less to politics. Such a creative problem solver, and much more practical than you would expect from his later role in the birth of America.
I highly recommend it to anyone who wants ...more
I found myself speculating on the political side that Franklin would fall today. I enjoyed learning about his spiritual side. I was dismayed over what appeared to be (outwardly at least) his lack of family care.
Still, there were areas that could have been better covered. It seemed as if there was little ...more
So aside from that main problem, it was very inte ...more
Brands does not hesitat ...more
Example: "The group also cultivated the literary arts. Common readings were assigned; these provided the grist for debate. By turns the members raised particular issues of morals, philosophy, and civ ...more
There's a reason why he's on the hundred dollar bill.
Now to reviewing this biography (I'll call it TFA). It's very well written, and easy enough to read. It's also LONG (800 dense pages). Now, Ben lived 84 yea ...more
Benjamin Franklin was The First American as the title of the book by H.W. Brands suggests. On his road to becoming the first American, Brands argues that Franklin considered himself British and intended to settle in London and live out his life until a course of events set in place by the times altered his life path. The work covers Franklin’s life from birth and ends with his death the night of April 17, 1790. Brands exposition of Franklin removes him from the historical folk character every sc...more
And of course it's a story worth telling. I was intrigued to see and understand that Mr. Franklin has the one attribute of the truly great people in all history; continual progression. His conclusions upon the nature of God, after a lifetime of p ...more
I'll call the first aspect the historical/narrative component of the book. Brands is concise when discussing non-Franklin events; the descriptions never feel like winding detours, which is normally something with which I take issue in historical biographies. The book expanded my ...more
The First American is able to capture some of the character of this man and explain who he was and why he did what he did.
The most amazing revelation for me was his reluctant entrance as a rebel. Growing up near Philadelphia, Ben Franklin is near legendary. We were often amused by stories of how Ben Franklin, George Washington ...more
But that might not be fair because "John Adams" is gobsmackingly good. This is merely good. I give the author a lot of credit; Franklin lived 84 years, but his life seemed even longer than that. It covered 1706 to 1790. This country changed dramatically during those years (heck, there wasn't even a "country" for most of them) and Franklin was at the center of many of t ...more