Kressel Housman's Reviews > The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
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really liked it
bookshelves: biography, classics, history, memoir, non-fiction, colonial-america

Because of the movie "American Treasure" and the plot sequence involving Benjamin Franklin's Silence Dogood letters (a series of letters he published under a pseudonym at age 16), my youngest son became interested in him and picked out a biography for me to read aloud at night. That biography, written for kids, cites its main source as Ben Franklin's autobiography, so I figured it was high time I read that American classic.

I'll admit it: the old-fashioned language of the original is daunting and sometimes made for dull and/or difficult reading. But if you're willing to push past that, you'll be richly rewarded. Because of the language and a few other things I'll go into below, I've rated this book a 4, but some of Franklin's insights are 5-star gems of wisdom. And he's also deliciously tongue-in-cheek.

The other reason I didn't give the book a 5 is that it's more memoir than a complete biography. The only mention of the Silence Dogood letters is in the outline at the end; the letters or even a discussion of them didn't make the actual book. He does mention his lightning experiments, but almost in passing, presumably because he'd already published the details elsewhere. And though he does mention the French and Indian War and how it revealed the British army's weakenesses to the colonists, he doesn't talk much about the Revolution and doesn't seem to mention working on the Constitution at all. So while this is probably the best source there is on Franklin's early life and contains some excellent insights into human nature, to get a more general look at Franklin's life, I think I need to read another biography.
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Reading Progress

March 29, 2012 – Shelved
April 1, 2012 – Started Reading
April 11, 2012 – Shelved as: biography
April 11, 2012 – Shelved as: classics
April 11, 2012 – Shelved as: history
April 11, 2012 – Shelved as: memoir
April 11, 2012 – Shelved as: non-fiction
April 11, 2012 – Finished Reading
May 30, 2013 – Shelved as: colonial-america

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Denise (new)

Denise Good for you for staying with the book;nowI'm inspired to try it. I haven't read it, but the Walter Isaacson bio of Franklin is highly recommended.


Kressel Housman Thanks for telling me. Someone asked for a recommendation on the discussion board.


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