Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson was a great book that was first published in 2004. This turned out to be a very lengthy book that contains 586 pages but the book continued to hold my interest throughout the whole adventure.
Now you may be asking yourself why an investor and a seeker of financial independence would be interested in such a man. It is worth noting though that Franklin himself was a regular guy who was very industrious and preached saving money and being frugal which lead to him retiring from business at the age of 42. Despite my admiration of this achievement so early in life it was not the only reason that I wanted to read this book.
I decided to read this book because Ben Franklin has always fascinated me more than any of America’s other founding fathers. Previously I have read the The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin which was a very fascinating book but it didn’t tell his whole story. It was written during different periods of his life so it did not follow a fluid chronological order. Thus I wanted to know more about Ben Franklin so I chose this comprehensive book to help enlighten me.
The book begins by telling the backstory of Franklin’s family which helps in explaining the things that began shaping him at a very young age. He apprenticed for his father as a candle maker but this did not last long since the following year he found his true calling as an apprentice in a printing shop.
While apprenticing as a printer he was also very prone to writing stories himself. Sometimes he published works under pseudonyms like Silence Dogood or Poor Richard. While writing as Poor Richard he began to grow a following because of his Almanac which was notorious for weather predictions, information about agriculture and probably most famous were his aphorisms. Some of these aphorisms are still heard today like:
“Failure to plan is planning to fail.”
“In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes.”
“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
With such a knack for writing and printing it didn’t take him long before he opened up his own shop. Franklin used quite a few very creative public relations tricks to sell papers.
He didn’t stop there. With the clout that he had built for himself soon people were seeking him out to apprentice for him. So Franklin essentially began franchising his printing shop by helping others set up their own shops and then receiving regular payments for his efforts. All of his practical business sense allowed him to retire from business at the age of 42 but this is not where his story ends.
Being retired from business allowed him to focus his time on things that interested him more, like science and public service. The most notable of his scientific discoveries was the lighting rod which he developed after his famous experience of flying a kite with a key on it. He was a chronic tinkerer and a studier of all things practical so he had quite a few other inventions and experiments that are lesser known but are discussed in the book.
With his discoveries in the field of electricity came a lot of celebrity. At this time he was famous in all of the developed world. Even though he did not stop experimenting he did use this new found fame to help position himself into many roles of public service.
He was very instrumental in the writing of the Declaration of Independence as well as being an ambassador for America during the Revolutionary war.
He was also the only man in history to sign all 4 important documents in the founding of this country. The first one of course being the Declaration of Independence but he also signed the Treaty of Alliance, Amity, and Commerce with France; the Treaty of Peace between England, France, and the United States and lastly he signed the Constitution.
Regardless if you look at him as a businessman, a scientist or a public servant he was a very intriguing person who lived his life according to his beliefs.
In conclusion, I think that Benjamin Franklin: An American LifeBe sure and follow me on your favorite social media platform:
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