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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  74,853 ratings  ·  3,078 reviews
Paperback, 143 pages
Published January 6th 2004 by Touchstone (first published 1791)
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Denise Kawaii There is a free edition in the Kindle store.

I only knew because I'm reading it now and I know I didn't pay for it when I do…more
There is a free edition in the Kindle store.

I only knew because I'm reading it now and I know I didn't pay for it when I downloaded it.(less)
Scott Andrews Yup. This guy lived before random evil, or organized evil. Also: he really needs to stop thinking he is God's chosen. Lucky he never got that disease …moreYup. This guy lived before random evil, or organized evil. Also: he really needs to stop thinking he is God's chosen. Lucky he never got that disease he claims to have missed from his youthful indiscretions. What an odd thing to include, considering he wants to appear so pious and pure.

To point: the necessary presupposition of deism is that you never encounter a truly bad person. Better to read Voltaire's Candide.(less)

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Tharindu Dissanayake
"Early to Bed, and early to rise, makes a Man healthy, wealthy, and wise."
"We may give Advice, but we cannot give Conduct."
"There will be sleeping enough in the Grave."

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, written by himself, is one of the must-read books for all, and considered by most to be the most influential autobiography ever written. As one of the founding fathers of United States, and titled 'The First American,' Benjamin Franklin was one of the most ingenious men in the recorded histo
Jul 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
“...there will be sleeping enough in the grave....”
- Benjamin Franklin


Even in death, I can't imagine Franklin resting. There is always just too much to do, too many questions to ask, too many books to read, too much to explore.

My brother recommended this book to me about 30 years ago. I'm not sure why I never read it until now. Part of it must be the feeling that Benjamin Franklin would always just be there. He wasn't going anywhere. He seems to permeate so much of what it means to be an Ameri
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, history
This is a curious little book. As an autobiography it suffers from the fact that it leaves out nearly all of the most interesting parts of Franklin’s life. This is a bit like reading an autobiography of John Lennon that ends a few years before he meets Paul McCartney. I’m not saying there is no interest in what is here, but any sort of version of such a man’s life that ends well short of the American Revolution is more than a little heart breaking.

There are very amusing parts of this – particula
Apr 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of early-mid 18th century
The charm and pleasure of this book, for me, is that it is not about the famous Benjamin Franklin, the inventor and one of the fathers of the American Revolution, but that it is about the young Franklin; about his education and apprenticeship as a printer to his brother, about his love of books and his determination to improve his writing skills, about how he uprooted himself from his birthplace and family and moved to Philadelphia, and began a business there. He meets rogues and swindlers, has ...more
Saadia B. ||  CritiConscience
This autobiography written by Benjamin Franklin himself is more of a chronological diary of his achievements than an autobiography, as not much have been discussed about his life but mostly it tell us about the work done by him.

He started working with his brother from a very young age at his printing press, while writing prose at the same time. Seeing that he couldn’t progress much in Boston, moved to Philadelphia and started his own business - a printing house and a newspaper.

Apart from his bu
Mar 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Man oh man, that dude had some mad skills. This book is written somewhat sloppily - changing narrative styles throughout, carrying on from time to time, and not even finishing it - but the content is truly amazing. Why didn't I learn in school about how awesome Ben Franklin was? In addition to his kite flying escapade, he invented a better type of wood burning furnace, and a better street lamp. He created the first public university in America (U. Penn), helped create one of the first public hos ...more
Ilyn Ross
Jan 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Dr. Benjamin Franklin is the embodiment of Thomas Edison’s “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” He came from a poor family. His sensible father was of good character. Dr. Franklin was a deist. What God has given man, he purposefully, methodically, and continually used to improve himself. A self-driven independent thinker, he endeavored to improve, not only mentally and financially, but morally. He did it for his own sake, and the fruits became the glory of mankind.

Dr. Franklin resol
Jason Koivu
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ben Franklin did it all. He was an incredible self-made human. Why wouldn't someone want to read more about him?

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is fairly short and to the point. It took a while to come to grips with Franklin's olde timey speech, but once I got up to speed (or slowed down?) with it, I really started to enjoy his walk down memory lane. He was a natural storyteller. Seriously, was there anything this dude couldn't do?

Not only was he industrious, but he made an admirable mora
Patrick Peterson
2020-11-18 I read this book about 35 years or so ago, give or take.

I found it and continue to regard it as an absolute gem!
Such great advice for improving one's own character, habits, performance.
One of the greatest books ever.

A book that can be referred to or reread over and over with great benefit.

For some books (like this) that I have not read/reread recently, my reviews can be short like this. But often for books that I have recently read, they can be longer, since I like to add some quotati
Mar 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderfully inspiring Read. It's a small book packed with great insights into virtuous living. His curiosity and observation of the world around him lead him to live an amazingly full life in which he accomplished much for the good of mankind. All this combined with his wit and writing style make it enjoyable to read and truly encourages the reader towards self improvement. I'm actually reading it again right now. It's great for new year's resolutions. ...more
James Henderson
In the summer of 1771, while he was living in a country home in England, Benjamin Franklin began an autobiography that he was destined to never finish. He prepared an outline of a final section that he did not complete, but the four parts that he did finish represent one of the seminal documents of the enlightenment.
He was a statesman, an author, an inventor, a scientist, a printer, and the list goes on and on when describing Benjamin Franklin. As an autobiographer he also demonstrated his geni
Kristy K
An interesting, short autobiography, but a little slow.
Henry Avila
Jul 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Benjamin Franklin's autobiography is perfect except for one thing, its only half finished!Franklin was prevented from completing it, by becoming involved in the American Revolution.Later going as a diplomat to Paris, to get French help.Born in Boston in 1706, to Josiah Franklin and his wife Abiah. A good student in his youth but the family lacked the money to send him to college. His father was a candle maker and Benjamin after many false starts became an apprentice to his brother James in the p ...more
Jon Nakapalau
This book was a referral from a friend who became the CFO of his company through hard work and sacrifice. He credits this book, above any other he read while pursuing his MBA, for his success. Franklin has a 'favorite uncle' way of giving you advice that will set you on the path to success. ...more
Christine Boyer
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: American history buffs.
I've always loved this guy, but to have him talk to me in his own words gave me goosebumps! Franklin certainly was the original "jack of all trades" and it was fun to hear him talk about his days as a young man, getting started, before and leading up to the time of the Revolution - which is probably what most people associate him with. He was so ahead of his time. I started to tab all the quotes of ideas he was proposing that we hear the current, leading self-help gurus propose today. Franklin a ...more
Jan Rice
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was exciting, once I found out it really was his autobiography! I couldn't believe it at 1st. Turned out to be divided roughly into two parts, the 1st starting with his family history and younger years, and the second coming later after a break. He was in his 80s, and his public had encouraged him to continue. The 2nd part is a little slower but still informative. The book is not very long, not a huge tome. It stops all of a sudden, before the revolutionary years. Maybe he just couldn't fin ...more
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I have always been very skeptical of self-help books. I read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey on the recommendation of a friend. Covey openly admitted that Benjamin Franklin's autobiography guided his ideas. So, I decided to go right to the source.

There is no better life book, and it is so effective because it does not seek to be a self-help book. This autobiography is really just a look into the life of a person who sought only improvement in his own person and enga
This book is based on correspondence and journals that Benjamin Franklin kept and then wrote this autobiography.

This book covers 3 different time periods in his life: 1771 when he was in England, 1783 in France, and 1788 in America. Franklin passed on before he finished writing his full autobiography.

Born in Boston, Franklin was born into a very large family, which was common in those days as childhood mortality was quite high. He was the 15th of a family that would eventually have 17 children.
Jan 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Niesha by: Heidi Shetka
There is so much to learn from Benjamin Franklin and his autobiography and other writings. Please read it yourself. It is well worth your time. I was inspired by his genius, curiosity in all subjects and in people.
Martin Asenov
Nov 20, 2016 rated it did not like it
Never have I read a more boring and terribly written book. I started it because it was a recommended reading from one of Robin Sharma's books (which was pretty good) but my only explanation of why it made it to this list is that neither Robin Sharma, nor anyone of his editors have read it. ...more
Jun 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing."-BenFranklin.

Franklin's book, a story of self-betterment, is written so as to be a model for the betterment of others. Book indicates Franklin's constant interest in self-improvement that makes this book a self help manual too.
One of the purposes of this Autobiography is to trace Franklin's intellectual growth as he slowly becomes that great mind as which future gene
Roy Lotz
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Benjamin Franklin is the closest America will ever get to producing a Buddha. There is just something unreal about Ben, like he stepped right out of a myth. Of course, this is perhaps an image he cultivated, but he cultivated it well.

What I mean by that Buddha comment is that I think Benjamin Franklin epitomizes a certain, distinctively Yankee notion of virtue. First and foremost, it is the virtue of industriousness. Benjamin Franklin never let himself have an idle moment. Every day was subdiv
autobiography? more like autoboreography
Benjamin Franklin invented the American Fire Department, wood stoves, and the American system of government. You would think, then, that he'd invent some way of writing an autobiography that wasn't boring as hell. But no. Franklin loves his books, and he also loves self-improvement (the best parts of this are his bizarre charts where he rates himself on a 13-point scale of morality). But despite all of his attention to rhetoric this book does not, in my opinion, rise to the occasion of chronicli ...more
Oct 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm curious to see now what biographers may have said of Mr. Franklin (he seems not to have qite whipped that vice of his, Pride!) ...more
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, audiobook
This was a very interesting and informative book made up of letters from Benjamin Franklin to his son over the course of several decades. I listened to it on audiobook which was neat because I sometimes felt like Franklin was sitting right next to me sharing stories of his life. Given the personal letter style, I felt like he became a friend rather than just someone I was reading about. Franklin shares what he learned from his long and active life not hesitating to admit where he made mistakes t ...more
Linda ~ they got the mustard out! ~
What didn't this man do? He started a printing press, a library, a fire brigade, the Poor Man's Almanac, drew up the plans for a school system that would eventually become the University of Pennsylvania, invented the Franklin oven and helped give us electricity, and got the roads in his hometown paved to save everyone from having to sweep up dust all day - and that's BEFORE the revolution. Which is sadly when this biography ends, since he passed away before he could get to the real meaty parts o ...more
I really enjoyed this book far more than I anticipated. I've read a lot about Benjamin Franklin but to read his story in his own words makes it really come to life.

He had a very down-to-earth writing style. I know that some of the words would have been modernised a little at some point in the publication history but you still get a very 18th century style without it bogging down with a lot of needless filler.

My problem with this book though is that there was quite a lot not included. He writes
Sep 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Franklin's life was completely nuts. And while his image has become little more than a goofy caricature in our age, the times that he lived and worked in were fraught with bizarre religious strife, nascent colonial revolutionary sentiment, doomed military expeditions, and kooky scientific/technological explorations.

America is first and foremost, a WEIRD place. Always has been. Always will be. And Ben Franklin, more than any other founding figure, apothasizes and simultaneously transcends that we
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished a biography and decided to reread his Autobiography, which I read in high school. I loved it then. What kind of boy did that make me? A nerd? A dork? I prefer to say "budding intellectual." I remember myself thinking then about how I could be a better person. Nothing wrong with a book that does that. ...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

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