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  • Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

  • Written by: Walter Isaacson
  • Narrated by: Nelson Runger
  • Length: 24 hrs and 40 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (144 ratings)

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Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

Written by: Walter Isaacson
Narrated by: Nelson Runger
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Publisher's Summary

Benjamin Franklin is the founding father who winks at us - an ambitious urban entrepreneur who rose up the social ladder, from leather-aproned shopkeeper to dining with kings.

In best-selling author Walter Isaacson's vivid and witty full-scale biography, we discover why Franklin turns to us from history's stage with eyes that twinkle from behind his new-fangled spectacles. In Benjamin Franklin, Isaacson shows how Franklin defines both his own time and ours.

The most interesting thing that Franklin invented, and continually reinvented, was himself. America's first great publicist, he was consciously trying to create a new American archetype. In the process, he carefully crafted his own persona, portrayed it in public, and polished it for posterity. His guiding principle was a "dislike of everything that tended to debase the spirit of the common people". Few of his fellow founders felt this comfort with democracy so fully, and none so intuitively.

In this colorful and intimate narrative, Isaacson provides the full sweep of Franklin's amazing life, from his days as a runaway printer to his triumphs as a statesman, scientist, and Founding Father. He chronicles Franklin's tumultuous relationship with his illegitimate son and grandson, his practical marriage, and his flirtations with the ladies of Paris. He also shows how Franklin helped to create the American character and why he has a particular resonance in the 21st century.

©2003 Walter Isaacson (P)2011 Simon & Schuster

What the critics say

"The most readable full-length Franklin biography available." ( The Washington Post Book World)
"Energetic, entertaining, and worldly." ( The New Yorker)
"In its common sense, clarity and accessibility, it is a fitting reflection of Franklin's sly pragmatism.... This may be the book that most powerfully drives a new pendulum swing of the Franklin reputation." ( The New York Times Book Review)

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What listeners say about Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

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  • P.G
  • 2020-06-19

great book

I licensed and under stood every thing in it. a really onsite into the life of bj

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Ben Franklin a man of great value

Franklin, I believe, was a man of great value to the forming of the United States of America. At first I was not pleased with Isaacson's presentation, but grew to like the book and the value he showed of inventor, printer and leader among many other areas that Franklin.

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You will love this Franklin!

I am writing this review with about 1 hr remaining in the over 24 hrs of this excellent audiobook. No need to extoll here the extraordinary life of Benjamin Franklin. This review is about the book by Isaacson and audio performance by Nelson Runger.

I`m quite sad, as I will miss the characters that came alive in the text and the reading, Temple, Benny, Polly, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, the various Franklin personas, and so, so many more. If you could fast-forward to the telling of the night that John Adams and Franklin shared a room and a bed, a night ol`Ben had a cold yet insisted the window stay open, and curmudgeonly paranoid Adams insisted on having it closed, and both arguing in an Odd Couple dynamic, you will fall down laughing at the ultimate humanity and flaws of these two great men.

I started with Jobs, then Leonardo, now moved to Franklin and have been thrilled. Next will come Einstein, can`t wait. Many thanks for Messrs Isaacson and Runger, well done.

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The Foundation of a Father of the Republic

Much is made of the foibles of great men. Although flawed in many ways Franklin was and is a remarkable historical figure. Isaacson’s treatise on his life and work captures the essence of many of the facets of America to this day. A long but fascinating read.

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Inspiring biography

I did not know much about Benjamin Franklin except for the picture of him harnessesing electricity with a kite during a Thunderstorm. Was I ever happy I listened to this book as which was a recommended read by Elon Musk in one of his interviews. This is a must read for all Engineers. Nelson the narrator really brought Franklins character to life. I even looked for other works that He narrated.

I will listen to this again. Thanks Audible for existing. You make reading classic books attainable for busy people. Now I can do chores, home projects, commuting, cardio all while learning something new. I really wouldn’t have the time to sit down and read all the books.

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Audio engineers need to be fired - buy the book

24 hours of an incredible story.
24hours of listening to Nelson Runger gut rumble and lips smack
0 hours of reviewing and editing.

The book is worth every minute but the audiobook is not. Buy the book.

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This is the book that never ends

It just goes on and on my friends.Some people started reading it not knowing what it was and they'll continue reading it forever just because this is the book that never ends.

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  • Ian
  • 2024-02-27

Not for me

This was a tough listen. Pretty boring subject matter and the narrator made weird tongue and mouth noises that sounded like he was playing with his dentures.

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Over 24 hours of...

Honestly, it is a very good and thorough book, I personally found it a little long winded, but Franklin did a lot in his life. Maybe it’s an attention span thing for me, but I just found the book to be too, unnecessarily detailed.

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