The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin question


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Looking for a good book on Ben Franklin
Sally Sally Feb 27, 2012 02:06AM
Can anyone give me a suggestion on a good book about Benjamin Franklin? I'm looking for one that is interesting to read and not stuffy or written like a school text book. Suggestions? Thanks!



However, the autobiography is incomplete! He does not go as far, even, as the revolutionary war. I believe that Benjamin Franklin, an American Life by Walter Isaacson is the best.


I highly recommend H. W. Brands The First American, the Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin, published in 2000, ISBN 0-385-49328-2 It reads like a novel in 716 pages of reasonable size in hardback. Published by Doubleday.


This book is actually really good! It doesn't read as stuffy as you'd think, to say the least. Not to mention it doesn't even really dip into his part in the revolution. I've been told that this is actually considered a self-help book by some. I'd agree with that.


For thorough research, Brands's "The First American" is the pick. For a nice, flowing read of Franklin's life, go with Isaacson. For an effort at getting into Franklin's brain, go with Morgan.

This "Autobiography" was a challenge given to Franklin, and Franklin's response is rendered as a letter to his illegitimate son William. Supposedly, at the point where this breaks off during King George's War, Franklin lost the bloody thing, and found it about fifteen years later. By then he had lost interest, added about twenty more pages, and just couldn't get interested again.

So what we have from Franklin's own hand is a mere fragment of his complex and hectic life, and the three authors I prefaced provide a much more thorough treatment of this life, than the man himself.

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Sally Thank you and every one else that responded. I'll check out all three! ...more
Apr 28, 2020 04:57AM · flag

Yes, read the autobiography or the other writings of Franklin. And skip all the forwards and commentary by others that sometime make up a good portion of his works.


Read The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin. It's quite good.


This is the book about Franklin. Who better than the man himself? Seriously, Franklin has no qualms about praising himself about his virtues, and knocking himself down over his flaws. This may well be the only truly objective first-person writing I have ever seen. Benjamin Franklin was a great man who knew and acknowledged that he was a great man, and yet when he says that, it sounds like an understatement.

Yes, if you want to learn about Franklin, read other works (including the stuffy ones). If you want to know Franklin, he will gladly introduce himself to you in these words.


The Autobiography is worth reading, but be forewarned that it is thought to be inaccurate. Franklin is believed to have described the person that he aspired to be and not the person that he was. He may have defended this approach with the hope that it would inspire others to better conduct than he was able to achieve.

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Sally Good insight. Thanks.
Apr 28, 2020 04:58AM · flag

Did you read the autobiography? Despite the old-fashioned style, it's chock full of wisdom and at times funny. But I hear there's a whole chapter on him in You Are Not So Smart.


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