Benjamin Franklin

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9780300095326: Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin is perhaps the most remarkable figure in American history: the greatest statesman of his age, he played a pivotal role in the formation of the American republic. He was also a pioneering scientist, a best-selling author, the country's first postmaster general, a printer, a bon vivant, a diplomat, a ladies' man, and a moralist - and the most prominent celebrity of the 18th century. Franklin was, however, a man of vast contradictions, as Edmund Morgan demonstrates in this biography. A reluctant revolutionary, Franklin had desperately wished to preserve the British Empire, and he mourned the break even as he led the fight for American independence. Despite his passion for science, Franklin viewed his groundbreaking experiments as secondary to his civic duties. And although he helped to draft both the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution, he had personally hoped that the new American government would take a different shape. Seeking to unravel the enigma of Franklin's character, Morgan shows that he was the rare individual who consistently placed the public interest before his own desires.

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About the Author:

Edmund S. Morgan is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University. He has written more than a dozen books including Inventing the People: The Rise of Popular Sovereignty in England and America, which won the Bancroft Prize, and American Slavery, American Freedom, which won the Francis Parkman Prize and the Albert J. Beveridge Award. Cited as "one of America's most distinguished historians". Morgan was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2000.

From Library Journal:

Morgan (Sterling Professor of History, emeritus, Yale), the award-winning author of numerous books, including Inventing the People: The Rise of Popular Sovereignty in England and America, here offers the best short biography of Franklin ever written. He is ideally suited to the task. For many years, he has chaired the administrative board that oversees the ongoing work on The Papers of Benjamin Franklin (Yale Univ., 36 volumes to date), making this the first biography whose author can claim to have read virtually everything ever written by or to Franklin. Without denying Franklin's flaws, Morgan expresses affection and admiration for his subject throughout. He argues forcefully that Franklin's chief goal was to live a "useful" life, showing that Franklin held public service above his lucrative career as a printer and the fame he achieved as a scientist. Morgan deftly shows how Franklin's desire to serve the public good occasionally led him to support ideas at variance with his personal views. The chief virtue of this book is also its chief flaw. Morgan's almost exclusive reliance on Franklin's papers gives the reader an unparalleled glimpse into Franklin's mind. Yet by keeping the story so closely tied to Franklin, the author sometimes gives too little attention to other persons and to the general social and political context. Moreover, he never discusses how his views compare with those of others, such as David McCullough (John Adams) and H.W. Brands (The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin). Nevertheless, the general reader will find this book to be a well-written, thoughtful appreciation of one of the Founding Fathers who did the most to shape his era and our own. Highly recommended for all public libraries.
T.J. Schaeper, St. Bonaventure Univ., NY
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description Yale Univ Pr, U.S.A., 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. Benjamin Franklin is perhaps the most remarkable figure in American history: the greatest statesman of his age, he played a pivotal role in the formation of the American republic. He was also a pioneering scientist, a best-selling author, the country's first postmaster general, a printer, a bon vivant, a diplomat, a ladies' man, and a moralist -- and the most prominent celebrity of the eighteenth century. Franklin was, however, a man of vast contradiction, as Edmund Morgan demonstrates in this brilliant biography. A reluctant revolutionary, Franklin had desperatly wished to preserve the British Empire, and he mourned the break even as he led the fight for American independence. Despite his passion for science, Franklin viewed his groundbreaking experiments as secondary to his civic duties. And although he helped to draft both the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution, he had personally hoped that the new American government would take a different shape. Unraveling the enigma of Franklin's character, Morgan shows that he was the rare individual who consistently placed the public interest before his own desires. Written by one of our greatest historians, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN offers a provocative portrait of America's most extraordinary patriot. Bookseller Inventory # 000234

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