The greatest statesman of his age, Benjamin Franklin was also a pioneering scientist, a successful author, the first American postmaster general, a printer, a bon vivant. In addition, he was a man of vast contradictions. This best-selling biography by one of our greatest historians offers a compact and provocative new portrait of America's most extraordinary patriot.
"Superb. . . . The best short biography of Franklin ever written. . . .[A] concise and beautifully written portrait of an American hero."-Gordon Wood, New York Review of Books; "While several previous biographies provide fuller accounts of Franklin's life, none rivals Morgan's study for its grasp of Franklin's character, its affinity not just for his ideas, but for the way his mind worked."-Joseph J. Ellis, London Review of Books; "Entrancing. . . . Lucid [and] entertaining."-Charles M. Carberry, USA Today; "In this engaging and readable book, Edmund S. Morgan . . . does more than recount the colorful and gripping story of Franklin's long, action- and idea-filled life; he also skillfully dissects the man's personality and mind, his social self and political beliefs. . . . Illuminating."-Susan Dunn, New York Times Book Review; "A luminous biography."-Louis P. Masur, Chicago Tribune Book Review; "It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to find fault with this book."-Carol Berkin, New England Quarterly
Author Biography: Edmund S. Morgan, Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University, has written more than a dozen books. Cited as "one of America's most distinguished historians," he was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2000.
Chosen as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review and as a best book for 2002 by the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Washington Post Book World, and Publishers Weekly, A finalist for the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award for biography, A New York Times Bestseller
This wonderful biography of an extraordinary man results from a perfect marriage of subject and scholar. Among the most senior of our senior historians, Yale professor emeritus Morgan (American Slavery, American Freedom, etc.) proves himself still at the height of his powers. While Franklin remains, as Morgan writes, elusive and hard to know because "it is so hard to distinguish his natural impulses from his principles," the author probably comes as close to understanding him as anyone can. Rather than focusing on Franklin's role as classic, representative American, Morgan instead gives us a portrait of his public life, almost a third of it spent abroad, in England and France, more than any comparable figure of his generation. In Morgan's hands, Franklin therefore turns out to be more cosmopolitan than provincial, more worldly than Pennsylvanian. He also shines in this biography as someone deeply committed to his fellow Americans and the nation they were creating. Many previous biographers have sought to explain how Franklin helped lay the foundations for a distinctive American mind and personality. Morgan instead takes us more into Franklin's thinking and activities as diplomat and politician and into the way his winning personality served his country so well at the moment it needed him. While suitably critical when Franklin deserves criticism, Morgan's bravura performance is nevertheless a buoyant appreciation of a man whose fame as aphorist in Poor Richard's Almanack and as the scientist who helped discover electricity have often obscured his devotion to the public good. It's hard to imagine a better life study of a man we've all heard about but who is barely known. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.