In continuing with my reading about the founding fathers and the American Revolution, I delved into this biography of Benjamin Franklin. Walter Isaacson presents the man in chronological fashion, with each chapter divided into sub-chapters of the highlights of the time. For instance, in Chapter 4 – The Printer, we see the subheadings A Shop of His Own, The Junto (Franklin’s philosophical social club), and The Busy-Body Essays, among others. I appreciated the way Isaacson divided the topics, and it especially helped when certain parts were uninteresting to me, because I could then skim it and resume reading in depth when the next sub-chapter appeared.
And unfortunately, there was a fair amount that I chose to skim. Much of the book was a rehash of information I had already read in other books, and Isaacson did not present the material in a fresh or interesting (at least to me) way. I was more interested in his politics, scientific pursuits and religious views than I was about his flirtations with various women. That’s not to say Franklin’s personal life was not important – I was able to gather a picture of a man who was as charming as he was wise. And while I’m glad I read this history of Benjamin Franklin, it pales in comparison to the excellent biographies by David McCullough and Ron Chernow (who, by the way, DID NOT write biographies of Benjamin Franklin).
3 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2004