The First American
The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin
By H. W. Brands
(Anchor Books, Paperback, 9780385495400, 784pp.)
Publication Date: March 12, 2002
List Price: $18.00*
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He was the foremost American of his day, yet today he is little more than a mythic caricature in the public imagination. 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 Drawing on previously unpublished letters and a host of other sources, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands has written a thoroughly engaging biography of the eighteenth-century genius.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.
“H.W Brands has given us the authoritative Franklin biography for out time.” —Joseph J. Ellis author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Founding Brothers
“Like its subject, this biography is both solid and enchanting.” —The New Yorker
“[A] biography with a rich cast of secondary characters and a large and handsome stock of historical scenery.... Brands writes clearly and confidently about the full spectrum of the polymath’s interests.... This is a Franklin to savor.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Benjamin Franklin’s life is one every American should know well, and it has not been told better than by Mr. Brands.” —The Dallas Morning News
“A vivid portrait of the 18th-century milieu and of the 18th-century man.... [Brands is] a master storyteller.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“A thorough biography of Benjamin Franklin, America’s first Renaissance man.... In graceful, even witty prose.... Brands relates the entire, dense-packed life.” —The Washington Post
“A lively re-introduction to Franklin.... Rich in the descriptions of settings, personalities, and action.... [Brands] offers ... a succession of amusing anecdotes and vivid tales.” —The New Republic
“Comprehensive, lively.... [Brands] is a skilled narrator who believes in making good history accessible to the non-specializing book lover, and the general reader can read this book with sustained enjoyment.” —The Boston Globe