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Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

Walter Isaacson

Franklin was an accomplished writer, inventor, media baron, scientist, diplomat, and business strategist, as well as one of America's most practical and ingenious political leaders.



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The Bottom Line

A biography of a founding father known for the extraordinary range of his accomplishments — from scientific inventions to diplomatic coups — and for being both practical and strategic, witty and wise.

I. Humble Beginnings

Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston in 1706, the 11th child of Josiah Franklin, a Calvinist candle maker, and his wife, Abiah. Josiah originally hoped Benjamin would someday attend Harvard and become a man of the cloth – but he had to withdraw his son from grammar school when it became too expensive. So, at age 10, Benjamin began apprenticing in his half-brother James’s printing press. He took quickly to the trade. He honed his writing skills, developed his authorial voice, and shared his opinions (writing under pseudonyms) for his brother’s paper, the New England Courant. By the time he turned 16, Benjamin was already a seasoned satirical essayist.

II. Running His Own Press

III. Scientist and Inventor

IV. Political Genius

V. Choosing Sides

VI. Staunch Advocate

The Takeaway

COMPLETE INSIGHT

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