The first American : the life and times of Benjamin Franklin

by H. W. Brands

Paper Book, 2002




New York : Anchor Books, 2002.


Pulitzer Prize Finalist Benjamin Franklin, perhaps the pivotal figure in colonial and revolutionary America, comes vividly to life in this masterly biography. Wit, diplomat, scientist, philosopher, businessman, inventor, and bon vivant, Benjamin Franklin was in every respect America's first Renaissance man. From penniless runaway to highly successful printer, from ardently loyal subject of Britain to architect of an alliance with France that ensured America's independence, Franklin went from obscurity to become one of the world's most admired figures, whose circle included the likes of Voltaire, Hume, Burke, and Kant.    Drawing on previously unpublished letters and a host of other sources, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands has written a thoroughly engaging biography of the eighteenth-century genius. A much needed reminder of Franklin's greatness and humanity, The First American is a work of meticulous scholarship that provides a magnificent tour of a legendary historical figure, a vital era in American life, and the countless arenas in which the protean Franklin left his legacy.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member SDiMeglio
Brands does an excellent job of bringing the many accomplishments of this fascinating genius to light, many of which were new to me. One example: using a bottle, a string, a cork and a thermometer, he found that you find the most time-saving navigational route to cross the Atlantic by measuring the temperature of the water. Going to Europe, stay in the warm water of the jet stream and ride the current. Going to the US, stay in the cold water and avoid it. This is a thoroughly enjoyable book.… (more)
LibraryThing member CritEER
- 2001 Honorable Mention Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award (recognizes books of exceptional merit written on the Revolutionary War era)
- Franklin is the most remarkable American ever...from a child runway to a success business man, world famous scientist, inventor, philosopher, and American Patriot
- The book highlights BF personal shortcomings...attraction to females of low intrigue, his relationship with his son, long separation from his wife
- I love the cast of characters in this book with individuals from France, England and of course early America Patriots
… (more)
LibraryThing member BAP1012
Very detailed life of Franklin. Although a slow read at times, it was full of wonderful information that helped me better understand this American legend.
LibraryThing member GShuk
Great audio that helps me understand both Benjamin Franklin and the times he grew up in.
LibraryThing member msaucier818
This was a solid biography covering the life of an American icon. This was the first realy biography I had read of Franklin, and I found his life to be fascinating. He was a revolutionary in every sense of the word, and all students of history should know his story. Beyond the American Revolution, his brilliance touches our lives today in ways we wouldn't even imagine. I am told that Isaacson's book is better, but I think this book certainly holds it own.… (more)
LibraryThing member Jarratt
I don't typically read biographies, but was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable and readable this book is. Granted, there were many passages I had to read over several times, but this was primarily due to the language Franklin used. I most enjoyed his early years and those that were specific to the Revolution and the creation of our Constitution. If you're looking for a Founding Father to learn more about, there's probably none better than Franklin, "The First American."… (more)



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