Benjamin Franklin

Edwin S. Gaustad

Book - 2006

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BIOGRAPHY/Franklin, Benjamin
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New York : Oxford University Press 2006.
Main Author
Edwin S. Gaustad (-)
Physical Description
x, 143 p. : ill. ; 22 cm
Includes bibliographical references (p. 127-135) and index.
  • Prologue
  • 1. The Improper Bostonian
  • 2. B. Franklin, Printer
  • 3. Doctor Franklin
  • 4. Pennsylvania Politics
  • 5. The Road to Separation
  • 6. War and Peace
  • 7. New Nation and Aged Patriarch
  • Notes
  • Further Reading
  • Index
Review by Booklist Review

Despite its subject's great familiarity, Gau-stad's second Lives and Legacies series entry is even more engrossing than Roger Williams (2005). For when all Franklin's accomplishments are set out as succinctly and fluently as Gaustad sets them out, what Shakespeare's Cassius said of Caesar--He doth bestride the narrow world like a Colossus --appears eminently repeatable, sans sarcasm, about Franklin. He excelled at every occupation he earnestly essayed: businessman, journalist, civic innovator, inventor, experimenter, politician, and diplomat. Yet even during his long ambassadorial residence in a prerevolutionary France that lionized him, he refrained from looking important, dressing simply as the epitome of a new and classless society. His statecraft has been slighted lately in comparison to his scientific work, so Gaustad's precis of his toils in England against the oppressive taxes of the 1760s and 1770s may be the most valuable chapter here. Franklin's late-life abolitionism, which Gaustad points up, will also gratify many. Only die-hard detractors of Franklin's Enlightenment rationalism may deny that Gaustad has written an excellent introduction to this foremost founding father. --Ray Olson Copyright 2006 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Gaustad?s entry into Oxford?s ?Lives and Legacies? series provides a brief but informative look at one of the then-nascent U.S.?s most complicated personalities. Gaustad, a history professor and author of works on Roger Williams and Thomas Jefferson, compresses what could be a multi-volume biography into 160 lively pages that render Franklin far more complex than a proverb-proffering, portly patriot who played with lightning rods. Gaustad mentions Franklin?s illegitimate son; his common-law marriage with his beloved wife; his scientific experiments, including his early toyings with electricity; his role in forming the post office, fire departments and public libraries; his religious and social beliefs (he was one of the first noteworthy abolitionists); his success as a printer, which allowed him to retire in his mid-forties; and his role as a British statesman before the Revolutionary War changed his loyalties. True, these accomplishments cannot be fully explored in this brisk history, but Gaustad?s slim volume is a great starting point. Photos. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.