Many people consider Ben Franklin the quintessential American. He is the man we see on the $100 bill and the man that proved lightning is electricity. To most Americans, the man and the myth. But, behind that myth was a true honest man with all his beliefs and faults. If you want to get passed the myth and get to really know the man, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life is an excellent book. Isaacson’s story about Franklin will allow you to get to know the man. This biography is extremely dense and interesting. Isaacson does a great job of not only featuring the writings of ole Ben, but showing the evolution of the man from a strong youth to an elder statesman.
Based on Isaacson’s portrayal, Franklin was an enigma in life and in death. The strange relationships with his wife, son, daughter and grandsons is exhaustively detailed in this manuscript. Isaacson goes into great detail about Franklin’s writings and political life from the Silence Dogood letters to his assistance in the authorship of the Declaration of Independence.
I would not consider this a page turner. At times in the manuscript, Isaacson goes into excruciating detail about seemingly insignificant areas. For instance, when talking about Franklin’s time in France during the revolution, Isaacson spend a significant amount of time describing the spy net around Franklin. Although an important fact to demonstrate Franklin’s genius, the extensive side bar story detracted from the overall narrative.
I like to judge historical books by how much I learned. Being a friend of history, I knew many things about Franklin going into this read. But, I learned so much about the man’s personality. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to learn about the man more than the myth.
Purchase: Benjamin Franklin: An American Life