From Benjamin Franklin's beginnings as a journalist at age sixteen to his retirement from public affairs at eighty-two, there was no break in his activity and accomplishments. As a writer, inventor, and statesman, he was--and still is--unsurpassed by anyone in the range of his natural gifts and the important uses to which he put them. In this ...
From Benjamin Franklin's beginnings as a journalist at age sixteen to his retirement from public affairs at eighty-two, there was no break in his activity and accomplishments. As a writer, inventor, and statesman, he was--and still is--unsurpassed by anyone in the range of his natural gifts and the important uses to which he put them. In this monumental biography, which won the Pulitzer Prize when first published in 1939, Carl Van Doren incorporates materials from Franklin's letters, manuscripts, journals, and published works to give the most accurate and comprehensive portrait ever written of this great American.
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A prominent Franklin scholar from San Diego recommended this book as the best biography to read, and he was absolutely right. I have read four now, three of them written in the last ten years. Van Doren's book was written 70 years ago and beats them all hands down.
Most books tell you that Franklin entertained himself doing mathematical puzzles while waiting around the Pennsylvania Assembly. Van Doren actually shows you some of them - an 8X8 matrix and an even more complicated 16 X 16 one. He explains the various patterns where the numbers add up to the same number.
Every book rehashes Franklin's Autobiography. Van Doren tells the same events using the journals Franklin kept at the time the events happened, and that gives a more current perspective than that of an old man looking backwards. The differences were very interesting.
Van Doren writes beautifully and brings Franklin to life. You can really understand why people loved being in his company, and why only Franklin could have won France over.
This is one book I will keep.
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