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Bolt Of Fate: Benjamin Franklin And His Electric Kite Hoax

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  31 ratings  ·  5 reviews
Benjamin Franklin's 1752 electric kite experiment, using lightning to throw a spark from a key, made him a celebrity, winning sympathy in France for the fight against the British. This text shows Franklin to be a great hoaxer and the fabled experiment his greatest hoax.
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 18th 2003 by PublicAffairs (first published January 1st 2003)
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Elaine Nelson
Aug 12, 2010 rated it liked it
Not as satisfying as I wanted it to be, honestly. Interesting to realize that Franklin almost certainly did not do the kite thing, and of course the wacky parlor-game atmosphere of early electrical science is always fun to read about. I think I actually wanted more details about Franklin's other hoaxes, for one thing.

Also, Priestly comes off very badly in this book, which is a strange contrast to the Steven Johnson book I read last summer. In that, he seemed flawed but interesting, whereas
...more
Lisa
Sep 02, 2011 rated it did not like it
Waste of time. I spotted it on the library shelf and thought it looked interesting. What a disappointment. If you want to read about the history of electricity experiments, there are better books out there. If you want to read about Benjamin Franklin, there are better books out there. If an author or publisher is going to write on the book jacket that they've proven a respected scientist is a fraud, they'd better actually prove it- not bury in a endnote that they haven't actually proven anything ...more
Lawrence A
Sep 23, 2007 rated it liked it
Enjoyable monograph concerning Ben Franklin's rise to scientific fame based on his experiments with electricity, and his use of the famous, and probably apochryphal "kite legend," to tweak the stuffed-shirts at the London-based Royal Society and to cajole them into giving this unwashed colonial credit for his actual discoveries.
Marty O'Brien
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Very up-beat juxtaposed to "The First American" which is more of a straight Biography where this is more humorous anecdotes of Ben Franklin's life.
Warren Watts
May 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Meh. A mildly interesting look into Benjamin Franklin's forays into electrical experimentation. Fairly well researched, but filled with lots of conjecture.

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