bup's Reviews > The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin

The First American by H.W. Brands
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Oct 25, 07

bookshelves: 2006, audiobook, history, biography, american-revolution-and-thereabouts, favorites
Read in February, 2006

The best biography I've ever read. Franklin is so human I could walk into the next room and not be surprised to see him setting there.

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 in the world, and then step down when people were asking him to become emperor.

After this book, though, you'll believe the war was unwinnable without Franklin - nobody else could've gotten the French to lend the US money and give naval support (and others did try).

Plus, of course, the man's life was fascinating.
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message 1: by Jim (new)

Jim Another thing Franklin did was to recommend Baron von Steuben for an appointment with the Continental Army. Franklin knew that Steuben was not actually a baron, but he padded the "baron's" resume to make him more attractive to the Continental Congress. Steuben was a professional officer, well-versed in Prussian military methods. Steuben, unlike many of Washington's staff officers, had experience in European-style warfare and trained the Continental Army into a viable force (albeit an army that ultimately needed a serious French military commitment).


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