Lani's Reviews > The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
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Jul 12, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: biography, classics, kindle, non-fiction
Read from July 08 to 11, 2011

I've always been fascinated by Ben Franklin and did lots of projects on him in school. He was born on the same day as me which I always thought was neat. So I was surprised that I didn't remember reading his autobiography.

Well, thank god I didn't try to read this when I was 8. Although the early years of Franklin's life were pretty interesting, beyond the first third of the book, it was SLOOOOW going. I should have stopped when Franklin stopped writing the first section. The book is broken into 3 chunks, each written at different points, and each more boring and pompous than the next.

The first bit covers his childhood, the beginnings of his printing trade, talks about Poor Richard's Almanac and his book of virtues. All really neat subjects and written in an easy to follow and less wordy style. Then a few letters from an acquaintance interject and explain that more papers were found and go on to tell Franklin that he should continue his autobiography. After that, the book becomes more about political hobnobbing and patting himself on the back than anything else. I'm sure if I were more familiar with the history I might get more out of a contemporary account of some of these things, but as a casual reader, it got old. Fast.

The more interesting science-y and invention stuff isn't addressed because he says that's already covered in other papers, and the book ends before any of the Revolutionary War goes anywhere exciting. One of the more entertaining periods of Franklin's life was his time spent in France, and that isn't covered either.

I was largely disappointed by a book that started with a lot of potential. Had the style stayed the same throughout, I might have enjoyed it more, but ultimately I think I still would have been frustrated by the lack of writing about the events I wanted to hear more about.

I got the book for free, and the Kindle edition I read was not the best. The footnotes were inserted directly into the text and were hard to follow until I figured out what was going on. The edition I read was clearly just scanned and OCRed, there was no editing done.
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