Read Autobiography and Other Writings by Benjamin Franklin Ormond Seavey Online


Franklin's writings span a long and distinguished career of literary, scientific, and political inquiry--the work of a man whose life lasted for nearly all of the 18th century, and whose achievements ranged from inventing the lightning rod to publishing Poor Richard's Almanac to signing the Declaration of Independence. In his own lifetime, Franklin knew prominence not onlyFranklin's writings span a long and distinguished career of literary, scientific, and political inquiry--the work of a man whose life lasted for nearly all of the 18th century, and whose achievements ranged from inventing the lightning rod to publishing Poor Richard's Almanac to signing the Declaration of Independence. In his own lifetime, Franklin knew prominence not only in America but also in Britain and France. Here was a cosmopolitan statesman, public servant, inventor, and editor with a distinctly Yankee sensibility; here was a moral philosopher who divided his faith between the natural sciences and the American experiment.This volume includes Franklin's reflections on such diverse issues as reason and religion, social status, electricity, America's national character and characters, war, and the societal status of women. Also included is a new transcription of his 1726 journal, and several pieces that have only recently been identified as Franklin's work.About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more....

Title : Autobiography and Other Writings
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ISBN : 9780199554904
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 361 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Autobiography and Other Writings Reviews

  • Jan-Maat
    2019-05-28 21:57

    One of the stories that I like from his autobiography is when he decides not to drink beer while working as a printer in London and all the other printers in the workshop are mystified why he doesn't make any type setting mistakes in the afternoon like they do.Sadly Franklin's own life story dries up long before the interesting stuff of revolutionary politics, swanning about in Paris pretending to be some-kind of sage from the forest as opposed to coming from one of North Americas largest urban centres. Written for his son who was a loyalist, while he himself was a traitor and a member of a rebel alliance, the book is filled with the sense of young Ben's indignance at being apprenticed to his elder brother, running off to Philadelphia, visiting London and eventually establishing his own printing shop and his wonder at coming across an edition of Pilgrim's Progress printed in Dutch which somehow he fails to turn into a money making venture

  • Kendel Christensen
    2019-05-21 04:27

    This book, though obviously an unfinished work from Franklin's life, is a gem. Is so open, so unassuming, as to make one forget that we are being tutored by one of the greatest diplomats of all time. It feels like reading a neighbor's personal blog. It is full of words to live by. Such as: “the wisest man will receive lights and improve his progress, by seeing detailed the conduct of another wise man.”(Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography, 59-60)“I made it a Rule to forbear all direct Contradiction to the Sentiments of others, and all positive Assertion of my own. I even forbid myself, agreeable to the old Laws of our Junto, the Use of every Word or Expression in the Language that imported a fix'd Opinion; such as certainly, undoubtedly, etc. and I adopted instead of them, I conceive, I apprehend, or I imagine a thing to be so or so, or it appears to me at present. When another asserted something that I thought an Error, I denied myself the Pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, and of showing immediately some Absurdity in his Proposition; and in answering I began by observing that in certain Cases or Circumstances his Opinion would be right, but that in the present case there *appear'd or seem'd* to me some Difference, etc. I soon found the Advantage of this Change in my Manners. The Conversations I engag'd in went on more pleasantly. The modest way in which I propos'd my Opinions, procur'd them a readier Reception and less Contradition; I had less Mortification when I was found to be in the wrong, and I more easily prevail'd with others to give up their Mistakes and join with me when I happene'd to be in the right. And this Mode, which I at first put on, with some violence to natural Inclination, became at length . . . easy and . . . habitual to me.”(Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography, 75)“I shall never ask, never refuse, nor ever resign an Office.”(Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography, 94)“When Men are employ'd they are best contented.”(Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography, 126)

  • Natalie
    2019-06-10 03:19

    Am I the only one who has a hard time enjoying listening to someone who clearly loves himself so dearly go on and on and on about himself? I mean, he wrote like 46 autobiographies. Sure he may have been a genius, but I'd just as soon other people tell me about it.

  • Jose Gaona
    2019-05-23 22:27

    http://conclusionirrelevante.blogspot...(...) "Se trata de un relato que va de más a menos en intensidad y cuyo interés se diluye como un azucarillo. Además, no incluye los momentos más interesantes de la vida del protagonista, como son los relacionados con la declaración de independencia. Y porque, con todo, uno no puede dejar de tener la sensación de que el personaje ha sido glorificado, enaltecido e hinchado como modelo de conducta a raíz de su importancia como figura mítica en la constitución de los EEUU. A fin de cuentas, ni sus ideas morales, ni religiosas, ni su temperamento constituyen, por originalidad, motivos suficientes para el endiosamiento al que la tradición le ha sometido. La pretensión de establecer en la biografía un modelo de conducta exportable a otras personas constituye una inclinación muy loable pero, admitámoslo, esperábamos más. Y un mundo lleno de Benjamins Franklins sería aburrido. Más ordenado, más previsible; un mundo lleno de burgueses y pollaviejas con sus rígidos sistemas de categorización. Por tanto, un mundo también más coñazo."

  • angie
    2019-06-21 01:08

    I don't know why but I get a real kick out of reading Ben Franklin. Not only are you getting opinions and observations straight from the horse's mouth when it comes to the 18th century, you're getting it from an oddly amusing and very pivotal figure in American history. What first appears quite stuffy is actually great entertainment...

  • Barbara
    2019-06-16 23:17

    Supposedly, I am a distant descendent of Ben Franklin so when I saw this used book, I picked it up for $1. My thinking was that the autobiographical writings might be of interest since I would be reading what Benjamin, himself, wrote. I wasn't disappointed. Being a writer (among many other things) by profession, he chronicled his life from early boyhood to old age in a letter to his son. This letter was fun and I totally enjoyed it but it only encompassed 181 pages of the book. Other writings followed, accompanied by short introductions by Lemisch which helped place them in time and importance. Overall, it gives a pretty comprehensive overview of the man - almost all written by Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century.I had, personally, written Ben Franklin off as a philanderer since the most I knew of him were his latter years where he negotiated a trade agreement with France. His life in France was comfortable, I suppose. But, what I learned of the young man was interesting. There are some similarities in the way I think and the way he thought. Of course, you might say, you can find similarities with anyone, but I think it's significant enough to feel a little kinship.My favorite parts consist of his list of 13 virtues, some writings from Poor Richard's Almanac, and his comments on religion and faith. In the end, he chose a way to escape an unhappy marriage through living in London and France which may have contributed to a rift between him and his only living son, William. This is the sad part. Even sadder was the unfortunate circumstances his wife, Deborah must have lived and died after his departure. All in all - a good insight into life in the mid-1700's!

  • Maggie
    2019-06-01 04:16

    Although I frequently read non-fiction books, this would not be normally be one in which I was interested, but as a book club choice, I gave it a try. The writing is clear and, even with the 18th century spelling and sentence construction, easy to read. Ben Franklin clearly intended to write a full autobiography, since he gives a great deal of detail to his early life including his thoughts on character, religion, and economy. Though he was not schooled for more than 2 years, he read widely, taught himself 4 other languages, began a very successful printing business, began a newspaper, wrote frequently on issues he thought needed to be discussed, served many years in the General Assembly for Pennsylvania, organized and helped fund a local militia, began the first lending library in the United States, began a debate society that lasted his lifetime, served as the Postmaster General of the colonies, helped fund and build three forts for defense of the local populace from the Native Americans, discovered electricity, served as envoy to England for the General Assembly, and many, many other things. The real problem with this autobiography is that it ends far too soon, in 1759, before the Revolutionary War, his service in the Second Continental Congress, his service as Ambassador to France, and service as President of Pennsylvania. This was a man who could fairly state that he lived a full and valuable life.

  • Dustin
    2019-05-25 02:14

    A fascinating read. The autobiography benefits tremendously from being written as a letter to his son, as the conversational tone makes it easy to read and gives you a sense of Ben Franklin as a person. The back half of the book is selected writings of Franklin's on a variety of topics from family life to science to diplomacy. I'd heartily recommend this.

  • Nuska
    2019-06-07 03:04

    "Y, dada la posición de los Estados Unidos, como punto de referencia económico, político y cultural, el influjo sobre los Estados Unidos se convierte pronto en el influjo de los Estados Unidos sobre otros países y culturas. No puede comprenderse el mundo occidental de hoy sin una referencia a los Estados Unidos; y no puede comprenderse gran parte de la 'mentalidad norteamericana' sin hacer referencia a Franklin". (4). "Sin embargo, sus escritos más difundidos han dado lugar a que sea hoy considerado como un 'hombrecito color tabaco', en palabras de Lawrence, y a que el mismo nombre de Franklin haya sido señalado como el símbolo de la autosuficiencia y el filisteísmo burgués, y de muchos de los defectos de la vida y el pensamiento norteamericanos". (7). "Para los europeos, y sobre todo los franceses de finales del XVIII, el americano Franklin, representante de las colonias en rebeldía contra Inglaterra, simbolizaba el mito del 'buen salvaje', del 'hombre natural', frente a la figura decadente del hombre pervertido por la estructura política heredada". (7). "Sería posible en gran parte trazar un mapa del pensamiento norteamericano tomando la figura de Franklin como punto de referencia, con proyecciones históricas en los que le precedieron y los que le siguieron". (11). "Harvard era la institución destinada a preparar la élite directiva puritana, y por ello mismo se encontraba sometida a una disciplina autoritaria que ahogaba toda posibilidad de conocimiento científico". (31). "En múltiples trabajos, como Necessary Hints to Those who would be Rich o Advice to a Young Tradesman y a lo largo de la Autobiografía, el Poor Richard's Almanack y el Way to Wealth, Franklin expone una filosofía utilitarista que llega a afectar incluso a las virtudes 'morales': 'La honestidad para Franklin es útil porque asegura el crédito; y tal es también el caso de la puntualidad, frugalidad y laboriosidad, y es por eso por lo que son virtudes' indica Weber". (37). "Analizando al respecto la obra de Franklin, el ideal que se deduce de ella es (frente al aventurero codicioso) el representado por la figura del 'hombre de bien' que goza de reconocido crédito en su comunidad y que, al perseguir metódicamente el aumento de su capital, lo hace impulsado no tanto por la auri sacra fames, como por una exigencia interna que llega a convertirse (y a aceptarse socialmente en forma dominante) como un deber justificado por sí mismo". (40). "Franklin ve al empresario capitalista necesariamente en un contexto social capitalista, con unas reglas éticas imprescindibles para el mantenimiento de todo el edificio social". (41). "El hombre que se aplica en su vocación podrá mirar a los reyes cara a cara. Esta sería la justificación o el objetivo final de la ética frankliniana, la no dependencia respecto a otros, el poder situarse en 'plano de igualdad' incluso ante los poderosos". (45). "Una comunidad en que cada uno cumple su oficio es por ello una comunidad igualitaria, frente a la estratificada sociedad europea". (45). "En este sentido, Franklin aparece como el precursor del American dream, del sueño americano; o mejor dicho, de uno de los dos 'sueños' que aún hoy se disputan la primacía en cuanto utopías dominantes de la sociedad norteamericana". (46). "La obra clásica de Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, donde los dos 'sueños americanos' se enfrentan: a un lado los Buchanan, representantes de la tradición frankliniana, y al otro Jay Gatsby, que representa la posición contraria, la mera consideración instrumental de los bienes materiales en la línea del idealismo emersoniano". (48). "Deísmo e individualismo forman un todo coherente en su obra, traduciéndose en un rechazo hacia estructuras intermedias que aspirasen a conseguir una lealtad y vinculación del individuo cara a fines supuestamente trascendentes. El principio del self love, por el contrario, aparece inspirando todo el pensamiento frankliniano: en último término, la utilidad se convertiría en principio moral decisivo". (49). "Esta posición individualista como punto de partida lleva al rechazo de toda justificación que no sea la basada en el contrato o acuerdo interindividual libremente acordado. la legitimidad tradicional se ve así negada a priori. Legítimo es aquello que los individuos han determinado libremente como útil y acordado como tal". (50). "Era, pues, consecuente buscar junto al orden natural, el 'orden moral' que permitiera reducir a la unidad tendencias aparentemente contrapuestas". (52). "En cierto modo, y en varios fragmentos de su obra, viene a contraponer la aleatoriedad de la política, concebida como un juego de dados, a la dirección racional de otras empresas, que puede simbolizarse mediante el juego de ajedrez". (53). "Esta actividad organizadora, a la busca de un orden que se entendía también como ordenación política, partía, de acuerdo con las ideas de la época, del concepto de contrato. Y el contrato supone una igualdad básica entre las partes, de forma que cada una de éstas pueda expresar su opinión e influir, no sólo en el pacto sino, tras éste, en la marcha de la sociedad". (54). "Tercer leit motiv de la Revolución; más allá del derecho a la vida y a la libertad, se apoya en el derecho a la búsqueda de la felicidad". (58). "Las personas de buen juicio, según luego he podido apreciar, rara vez caen en el vicio de discutir salvo los abogados, los universitarios o los que se han criado en Edimburgo". (78)."Aquella frugalidad contribuyó a que mis progresos en el saber fueran más rápidos, pues sabido es que la claridad de mente y la prontitud de asimilación intelectual son, por lo general, compañeras de la templanza en comer y beber". (81). "Y puesto que los objetivos de la conversación consisten al fin y al cabo en informar o ser informado, en agradar o en persuadir, creo que los hombres sensatos y de recto juicio no deben mermar su capacidad de hacer el bien, adoptando una postura dogmática que suele disgustar a los interlocutores, crear oposición y contrariar los fines aludidos del don de la palabra". (82). "A veces cuando no se tiene dinero se es más generoso que cuando nos sobra, tal vez para que no se den cuenta de que no lo tenemos". (90). "Una de las ventajas de ser animal racional es encontrar siempre una buena razón para hacer lo que nos parezca". (100). "La conversación nos compensaba a los dos de lo escaso de nuestra colación". (113). "Llegué a convencerme de que la verdad, la sinceridad y la integridad en las relaciones de unos hombres con otros eran lo más importante para ser felices". (124). "Me pareció su actitud tan mezquina, que cuando me encontré después en situación de poder hacer lo que él había hecho, tuve el buen cuidado de no comportarme jamás como él". (135). "Cuanto le ha acontecido es de aplicación a todos los que tratan de elevarse, punto en el que no creo que los escritos de César o de Tácito sean más interesantes que los de usted para quien quiera juzgar a la sociedad y a la naturaleza humanas. Pero, señor mío, éstas son razones de importancia secundaria, en mi opinión, si se las compara con el efecto que el relato de su experiencia puede tener en la formación de futuros grandes hombres". (140). "La escuela y otras instituciones didácticas suelen basarse en principios equivocados, y funcionan dentro de un torpe mecanismo casi siempre orientado a metas equívocas". (140). "Lo más parecido a la experiencia propia es ver revestida de interés la de aquellos que han sabido desenvolverse bien en condiciones similares a las nuestras". (142). "La virtud de saber esperar el momento oportuno es importante para alcanzar el éxito en el gran teatro del mundo" (142). "A veces un ligero sacrificio de la vanidad personal y dejar que los demás se adornen con plumas ajenas, compensa a la hora de buscar resultados prácticos". (147). "La modestia de mi tono verbal hacía que el interés en escucharme se intensificara en el auditorio, al tiempo que decrecía el prurito de la contradicción". (160). "A decir verdad, no creo que haya en nosotros otra pasión más reacia a dejarse domeñar que la del orgullo". (160). "Los grandes acontecimientos del mundo, las guerras, las revoluciones, etc., son llevadas a cabo y realizadas por partidos. Los puntos de vista de esos partidos reflejan los intereses actuales de los mismos, o los que ellos tienen por tales. Los puntos de vista de esos partidos al enfrentarse entre sí dan origen a la confusión. Mientras cada partido se preocupa de llevar a cabo su programa general, cada individuo está pensando en sus intereses particulares. Tan pronto como un partido obtiene lo que se propone, cada individuo se apresta a satisfacer sus intereses personales, los cuales, por lesionar los de otros, ocasionan la escisión interna del partido, dando origen a nueva confusión". (161). "Quien te ha hecho un favor estará más dispuesto a hacerte otro que aquel a quien tú se lo has hecho". (170). "Pude comprobar la verdad del popular aserto de que lo difícil es hacer las primeras cien libras, quizá por lo prolífico que parece ser el dinero". (177). "Cuando yo me retiré, tal como he indicado, de mis negocios particulares, acariciaba la idea de que con mi fortuna, no muy grande pero suficiente, podía proporcionarme el necesario ocio para entregarme a mis estudios filosóficos y a mis entretenimientos favoritos". (189). "La felicidad humana no es tanto producto de sensacionales golpes de buena suerte, que pocas veces ocurren, cuanto de pequeñas circunstancias favorables que acontecen todos los días". (197). "Mirad al mundo habitado y veréis cuán escasos son los que saben lo que les conviene o, sabiéndolo, se esfuerzan por alcanzarlo". (200). "Estas gentes amigas de discutir, rebatir y contradecir a los demás suelen ser poco afortunadas en sus negocios". (201). "Todo lo que satisface a nuestro orgullo y tiende a exaltar a nuestra especie sobre el resto de la creación nos lo solemos creer más fácilmente, mientras que las verdades que son desagradables se rechazan con la mayor indignación". (251). "[Benjamin Franklin] fue responsable de la emisión de papel moneda en las colonias británicas de América (1727)". (353). Me encantan las listas. Ahora mismo no recuerdo en cuál fue exactamente, pero descubrí este libro en una lista acerca de los libros más leídos en las universidades pertenecientes a la "Ivy League", entre las que se cuentan algunas de las más prestigiosas del mundo y tuve curiosidad. Reconozco que sólo conocía a Benjamin Franklin como el inventor del pararrayos, pero el sabio hombrecillo hizo más, mucho más. Su autobiografía se considera el origen del pensamiento burgués norteamericano. Las ideas del llamado 'sueño americano' y el 'hombre hecho a sí mismo' le pertenecen en gran medida y por ello, resulta muy interesante indagar entre las anécdotas relatadas en su autobiografía. Además de ello, Franklin inventó una estufa, un nuevo sistema para iluminar las calles en el que el alumbrado público no se ennegreciera tanto impidiendo una visión nítida, fue uno de los impulsores del sistema público de bibliotecas, defendió la independencia de las colonias americanas de Inglaterra, logró que acuñaran su propia moneda, se interesó por la política, la Economía, acerca de la que daba consejos o máximas populares en unos conocidos almanaques, reformó la educación, que en el siglo XVIII aún dejaba mucho que desear en América, incluso en la prestigiosa Harvard, y un sinfín de cosas en lo que parecen haber sido dos vidas en lugar de una sola. Muy interesante, muy ameno, muy recomendable, entiendo por qué estaba en esa lista, no sólo como representación de los orígenes de la forma de pensar norteamericana en la actualidad, sino como relato de los inicios de toda su cultura, educación e incluso la independencia de los Estados Unidos como nación.

  • Tim
    2019-06-15 23:17

    After multiple readings of this book, I have to say that I am coming to agree with DH Lawrence's assessment of Franklin (quite possible the only thing I agree with him about). "I admire him.... I do not like him." Franklin is the quintessential American, getting on in the world, active in affairs, inventing, politicking, organizing, reading, but never really thinking all that much. Oh, he claims his library increased the thinking of Americans. Yes, he wrote many things and connected lightning and electricity, but all his achievements only make him the archetype for the American doer. Self-improvement is never to make a better self for Franklin, but to make a better Franklin in the world's eyes. As for his religious views, I will let Lawrence take another shot. Franklin relates his religious principles about one God, who governs the world with his Providence, and who should receive worship and service from men (by doing good to other men), and the immortality of the soul and judgment based on virtue and vice. Lawrence notes the following: "Now if Mr. Andrew Carnegie, or any other millionaire, had wished to invent a God to suit his ends, he could not have done better. Benjamin did it for him in the eighteenth century. God is the supreme servant of men who want to get on, to produce. Providence. The provider. The heavenly store-keeper. The everlasting Wanamaker. And this is all the God the grandsons of the Pilgrims Fathers had left. Aloft on a pillar of dollars." Puritan fathers would probably be a better comment, but on the whole I agree with Lawrence. For Franklin, the religious means of organizing and motivating society justify religious ends, albeit little ones. In response to Lawrence's attacks, I will let historian Daniel Walker Howe say something more positive about Franklin and his contemporary, Jonathan Edwards: "Edward's message urged people to let God take over their hearts, and all else would follow. Franklin's message was that God helps those who help themselves." For Howe, both strands of thinking were woven together in 19th century evangelicalism, as many of Franklin's efforts at bettering humanity in the temporal world were taken over by evangelicals who also retained at least some of Edwards' thought. "Thus evangelical piety energized humanitarianism as deism never could - just as Franklin had expected." Franklin could say of his own Deism, quite humorously to my view, "I began to suspect that this Doctrine tho' it might be true, was not very useful."In the end though it has to be said, it is not Frankin's ideas as much as his actions that influence coming generations. And it is not those actions, but the acclaim he seeks for those actions, that make Franklin seem less than likable. Franklin did not create the idea of self-improvement or of the improvement of society, but he remade them for colonial America. And for that his Autobiography takes endless credit.

  • Ashutosh Kumar
    2019-06-17 04:04

    One of the finest autobiographies I have read. If one needs a peek into what American literature sounded actually was in the eighteenth century, this book is a must.Additionally, reading this biography would strike a fine difference between narrative style of a politician and a philosopher. One realizes upon reading this piece of art that the American English language has undergone innate changes in its composition and that flexibility of placing verbs and nouns has been formalized greatly in English used in the nineteenth century. Benjamin Franklin's style of writing is in stark contrast to the style of writers who write for the "reader". Benjamin writes himself out in the purest of expressions, without caring for the complexities his complex and forming maze of long sentences, depicting the inner working of mind of a great philosopher. His emphasis of 13 virtues, should especially be made part of curriculum of all countries in present times, when moral values and ethics are becoming extinct day by day. His story from the childhood has the power to revamp the infrastructure of minds collapsing wholly under the ever-unending race of greed, competition and lack of compassion towards fellow beings. This book is a must for those researching the advent of political systems and establishment of a finer form of governance that emanated with Republicans & Congress.Benjamin himself being at the forefront of numerous civic & societal innovations, esp taxation, this auto-bio is an excellent read in the manner the democratic institutions have come to operate since their inception.

  • Sunil
    2019-05-22 01:19

    It's hard to believehe never fucked up.

  • Miguel Morales
    2019-05-23 04:09

    Para mi persona, uno de los mejores libros que he leído. Si bien carece de forma, pues son unas series de cartas que, al final, no concluyen con la vida de Franklin, no deja de ser una experiencia maravillosa que enseña mucho sobre el fundador del espíritu capitalista, el que se basa en la laboriosidad, la frugalidad, y la multiplicación del capital.Franklin, tan regido por sus virtudes, comete durante su vida muchas contrariedades que no intentó ocultar. A cambio, documenta estos hechos.Lo único que no me gustó fue la introducción, hecha por un estudioso moderno de Franklin, el cual habla sobre el pensamiento Frankiliano sobre la religión, la política y la economía. Lo hace de forma muy aburrida y dándole varias vueltas a las mismas ideas, sin ningún sentido.Una lectura obligatoria.

  • Andrew Corrie
    2019-05-31 20:07

    The volume includes the Autobiography (the part I have read, as per my intention) and a collection of essays, journal entries, newspaper articles, and one scientific paper. It's actually hard to imagine a more complete and wonderful human being than Benjamin Franklin: craftsman, writer, inventor, philosopher, politician, statesman, &c., &c. His is a pragmatic world: he boils down religion into the parts which are useful in promoting virtue and being kind to others and then the stuff people just argue about which makes them fall out; he invents things - stoves, lightning conductor; he spots where public works make society better: paving Market Street in Philadelphia; founds a public library, founds a University.... the list is just endless. An inspirational book.

  • Linda Wagner
    2019-06-04 01:08

    The earlier part of Franklin's autobiography is filled with anecdotal material from his life that is very interesting. For instance, did you know he is credited as the first American swimming coach? Initially, he started to write his story in the form of a letter to his son and he includes more personal stories. Later, someone suggested to Franklin that his life might be of interest to the public, so the last part of the book got very dry, with more factual information about his role in public affairs and international politics. Easy to read and not nearly as long winded as some of the autobiographies written today.

  • Kevin
    2019-06-01 22:10

    Benjamin Franklin was quite possibly America's greatest citizen. The sum of his inventions, political influence and writings are incomparable. This autobiography and other writings gives a snapshot into his life, part self-help book, part history book, part philosophical, religious, and political treatise. He doesn't dwell on any subject to long but is still able to elucidate on a number of topics. So much knowledge packed into so few pages. Simply brilliant.

  • Carl
    2019-06-17 23:19

    When reading and learning about the Autobiography I not only came to appreciate its influence, but also fall for Franklin's homespun advice and carefully crafted image. His discussion of virtues I found particularly interesting, but also reminiscent of Aristotle. I would very much encourage my fellow Americans to at least learn about the Autobiography to appreciate its social and artistic influence (warts and all by the way).

  • LP
    2019-05-22 21:22

    A must read for anyone fascinated in a life as a Polymath.

  • Michael Murphy
    2019-05-25 00:12

    I think I'll skip Autobiographies in the future... stories told by others about a person seem to be more interesting.

  • Paramjeet
    2019-06-08 01:10

    This book can be divided into two parts, the first part contains the autobiography part which is filled with inventions he made during his scientific career. He had mentioned more about the people that he met. In the second part he has talked about his experiments, his various letter to people (one letter which has been written in the form of constitution portrays the relationship between husband and wife is on the lighter note). Overall this book can be termed as the right mix of description of personal life as well as his scientific progress made during his lifetime.

  • Ami
    2019-06-11 01:05

    This was a delightful experience. I'm amazed at how much more modern his writing seems than I'd have previously thought. Franklin turns a witty phrase, and I read with a dictionary close by, but it was in no way dense. His account of how he taught himself to be a more skillful writer by imitating admired works, shuffling & reordering passages, etc. was fascinating. Later, he dares to edit lines of a Pope poem!The introduction by a Franklin scholar is a helpful key to interpreting the man's motives, which are often rather shrewd and calculated so as to be inoffensive & therefore more likely to be respected. Franklin espouses a policy of modesty. However, this modesty arises not out of any particular sense of humility, for which he appears to have little regard. (He admits that vanity is a quality inherent in mankind and even serves a purpose if it moves us to do good for which we can be celebrated.) Rather, he proposes that a sense of modesty in which statements are presented as opinion or personal observation (as opposed to absolute truth or fact) have less room for opponents to debate and are less likely to cause one embarrassment when refuted by a skilled debater. The editor also points out that Franklin often took on the role of "wise old man" in even his early writing, so by the time he was actually a wise old man, it was "a role Franklin deliberately grew into". Indeed, people often came to consult with Franklin for his opinion, and nominated him for public offices so that he didn't need to actively campaign. He was a person whose opinion was highly sought & respected, which is, tellingly, exactly how he describes his own father.The Autobiography and other writings also show a good deal of Franklin's personal religious philosophy, and his preoccupation with morality. At one point he devises a 13-week "course" to work on his own adherence to the 13 virtues he has decided are necessary to be a good person, each defined and ordered so as to perpetuate the next in line. He says that he runs through this 13-week course 4 times the first year, and repeats it many times throughout his life. Interestingly, this appears to replace a need for organized religion, whose focus on dogma over morality he doesn't have much use for, preferring to spend his Sabbath reading and studying at home. I was confused by his reference in the Autobiography to his 1726 Journal, in which he says that he first crafts his ideas about living a moral life. I couldn't find that reference anywhere in the 1726 Journal, and I think that might have been moved to Part 2 of the Autobiography, where he talks about that 13-week course, complete with a calendar chart. But then I was watching a PBS documentary where the actors were speaking in only words written by the people they were playing, and Franklin starts talking about things I didn't recognize from either piece of writing. So I'm still unsure what's going on with that.Lastly, I was delighted to find that Franklin indeed possesses the charm that is usually attributed to him, and also a good sense of humor. "Old Mistresses Apologue" was quite the exercise in cheekiness, and I'm eager to proceed to more of his writings in this vein in the next Franklin book on my list, Fart Proudly.

  • Sadie Stone
    2019-06-18 02:17

    Sadie StoneBook Review #5A1 In Benjamin Franklins "Autobiography and other Writings" book, I was captured back in time to when Benjamin Franklin lived. Benjamin Franklin was a very accomplished man, and had many accomplishments in his life. Franklin was one of the founding fathers of our nation, and contributed to the development of our nation. One thing that I really liked throughout Benjamin Franklins writing, is his use of vocabulary. There are many examples of this in his autobiography. "Its fate was singular, the assemblies did not adopt it as they all thought there was too much prerogative in it." This is just one of hundreds of examples of vocabulary used throughout his book. As I read it it, I found myself looking up words to understand his writings. In doing this I feel like I got smarter, and increased my vocabulary.Another thing that Benjamin Franklin used throughout his writing was setting. He used setting as he traveled around the nation, and I like how he compared the setting to other things. "About 9 o'clock the fog began to rise and seemed to be lifted up from the water like a curtain at a playhouse, discovering underneath, the town of Falmouth." When Franklin used interesting things to describe the setting, the book became less boring to me. When he described places I felt like I could be there myself. Throughout Benjamin Franklins writing you can tell that he was a very educated man, and that he has influenced our country greatly. At times this book was hard to understand, and even boring, but it was still a pretty good book. I don't know if I would recommend this book, but I would recommend learning about Benjamin Franklins life, because he was a truly amazing man.

  • Grace
    2019-06-12 01:25

    I think we all learned a little about Benjamin Franklin in our history classes, such as his experiments with lightning, his inventions, and some of his public service achievements, as well as his involvement with the Continental Congress. But I was especially interested in his Plan of Conduct as well as his list of Virtues which he tried to follow. According to his autobiography, he was a great believer in industry, frugality, prudence, knowledge. He believed that in order to succeed, you needed to work hard and not waste time. He also believed that the money that you earned, you should not waste, but rather be frugal with it. I also found it interesting that Franklin was self-educated, yet he was very well-read, and he eventually received honorary degrees from Harvard, Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge. This shows what dedication and industry can achieve. This, I believe, is a book that everyone should read, and it is especially thought provoking during difficult economic times such as those in which we now find ourselves. In addition, I found it interesting that even though Franklin had his list of thirteen virtues that he tried to follow, he admitted that he was not perfect and he often found them difficult to follow, but by making a schedule and keeping track of how well he did with each virtue, he was able to slowly improve. He was setting goals for himself so that he could continually become a better person. He seemed to be a very organized man. I feel that each of us could find something in his autobiography which could benefit us. I only wish that I had read it earlier and applied some of his techniques to my own life at an early age.

  • Jessica
    2019-06-16 21:27

    This was one of the hardest books to get through but it was pretty interesting to learn so much more about one of the great men who shaped America. I always knew Ben Franklin did a lot of things but I really had no idea how much he managed to accomplish in his lifetime. He was one of the early supporters of uniting the 13 colonies into one nation which was new info to me. I knew about bifocals and electricity, but I didn't know about the library, hospital, militia, and university he founded. I love reading deeper into the lives of past historical figures and it was interesting to read about Franklin from his own perspective. Although when you read someone's story of themselves, you as the reader have to know that what you are reading is probably not totally objective fact. Franklin chose what to include in his autobiography which was written in several parts across several years. He covers his childhood, teens, and adult life (through about age 55-60). He wrote the last part a few years before his death and unfortunately never finished it. He didn't make it to include anything on the American Revolution which would really have been fascinating.I commented early on that reading this book was like school. And it was in a felt at times like reading a history textbook. I also recognized parts that I'm pretty sure I must have read in school. But even though it was a time-consuming read, it was worth my time to find out more about this key figure who helped form the country I live in today.

  • Hanna Numbers
    2019-05-24 03:26

    Benjamin Franklin's autobiography is a VERY uninteresting book.As you may know, Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod and signed the Declaration of Independence. This book goes more into detail about his life and his opinion of things, although some of this is written in the form of letters which I find incredibly boring and could not stay interested. Included in this book is part of his journal in which he writes about his sea travels. This is not interesting at all though. He mostly talks about the weather. Sometimes he explains the places he goes to, such as Portsmouth, but he goes into so much detail I can barely stay interested. He also includes the most boring details. Such as when he wrote about "that exciting time" when he saw a bird and he started ranting about what a beautiful bird it was. I found it funny how he spells words like "surpiz'd", "pleas'd", and "manag'd" without the "ed" and sometimes he says "methinks".I personally hated this book because it dragged on and was very boring. I also could not understand much of what he was talking about and it was very confusing. The book was filled with sentences like: "Should they even prove unsuccessful in all that a sanguine admirer of yours hopes from them, you will at least have framed pieces to interest the human mind; and whosoever gives a feeling of pleasure that is innocent to man, has added so much to the fair side of a life otherwise too much darkened by anxiety, and too much injured by pain." I would not recommend this book to anyone or even give it one star.

  • Dhsparkman
    2019-05-27 01:08

    Franklin was the foremost scientist on the planet in 1750. And that is just a small facet of a great man. His autobiography provides a great insight into the life and times of colonial America, in which he played a leading part. One gets a first hand look at the French and Indian [Seven Years':] War, as fought in North America on the administrative front.What is surprising is the self-absorbtion of Franklin himself. One sees a man who is totally consumed with himself, and thinking of himself as the epitome of the perfect life. He was a self-made man, no doubt, but the relentless efforts to perfect himself come across as obsession. But there is also a great to learn in how to advance in life, and the thought processes of people who are obsessed with advancement. It gets to be scary to think that there are people like this in the world. What is sadly missing from this book is Franklin's observations concerning the run-up to, and his participation in, the Revolutionary War for American independence from Britain, as well as his participation in the formulation of the U.S. CONSTITUTION, as Franklin played the role of elder statesman and moderator in these events, and his insights into them would have added a great deal to our knowledge of our country and its foundation. But no doubt Franklin was aware of this, and chose to keep things private in order to promote tranquility in the nation.

  • Cari
    2019-05-24 00:19

    Any book that is only 335 pages and takes me two months to read is probably not one I enjoyed much. I have struggled through though and now I can cross it off the list as being complete! Mr. Franklin, despite being so lauded and such a revered public figure of American history, failed to endear himself to me through either his own autobiography or through the selected readings of his printings and personal letters. The fact that, by his own admission, he wrote not what was true but what he thought would exhibit a greater person for others to look up to really irritated me. Coupled with the rather blatant hypocrisy of his constant harping on the need to live a virtuous life while he did not, I am not surprised that I find myself with a rather lower opinion of him than I had to begin with.My favourite part of the book was definitely the excerpt from Abagail Adam's letter regarding his relationship with the French lady towards the end of the book. I also enjoyed some of his writings from Poor Richard's Almanac, but as a whole while I can see that there is some gain to read the perspective of the life and times of such a pivotal figure in American history, I don't feel like there was much personal gain in my having spent so much time reading this book.Additionally, reading it seems to have made my penchant for run-on sentences even worse.

  • Ollie
    2019-05-28 23:07

    Few individuals have obtained the legendary status of Benjamin Franklin. As such, one can only imagine what sort of charming stories are contained in his Autobiography: one of the most widely read books of its time.Unfortunately, there is not really much delight in reading Franklin’s Autobiography. Though it starts with an interesting account of his childhood, Autobiography mostly reads like Franklin’s life advice. Doubly unfortunate, his advice is so obvious and tedious that it borders on what one would expect from their grandmother: do good things, and avoid bad things. Also, one wonders with the legendary stories that abound of his life (such as his womanizing), how much can be trusted in such a tame and repressed book. Where are the juicy stories, for example? In addition, Franklin’s accounts of the founding of America and the revolutionary war reads more like an account of receipts with stories on how money was needed for such and such a project and how the money was acquired. Very boring stuff. This also applies to the “Other Writings” part of the book, which again, read like a rambling grandmother than actual useful advice. Or instead collects essays such as Franklin’s Kite Experiment, which is not exactly something that is useful to the layman.All in all, a very disappointing read. Great cover, though.

  • Tim Owens
    2019-06-07 22:07

    The concept of an autobiography wasn’t around in Franklin’s time so the book is an accumulation of texts he sent to friends. His story begins with his birth in Boston in 1706 and ends in 1771. He died in 1790 so the last 20 years of his life are not accounted for in the so-called autobiography, so he has no account of the Revolution, his time living in France and what else I may not know about his life.The account is irritating to read because Ben liberally uses capital letters in the middle of sentences and there is no rhyme or reason for them, he abbreviates many words and luckily the publisher provides definitions in the footnotes for those words no longer in use. What also stands out is how compassionate and generous he was throughout his lifetime. Ben can be described as a community organizer, an adept politician, pragmatic and a philanthropist. Franklin is my ideal spirit of an American and our values. He had the ability to hold his tongue and never speak poorly of anyone. His insights of problem solving allowed him to be flexible. Ben’s last Poor Richard Almanac text 1758, titled “Poor Richard Improved” is included in the book and it was surprising much of the article’s ideas I have know, but where or how I do not know.

  • Kristin
    2019-06-02 00:58

    First, let me state that I have not read this entire book. I read the autobiography, and aside from possibly going back and reading his advice to a friend on choosing a mistress, it's all I intend to read. Now, parts of Benjamin Franklin's autobiography were very interesting, particularly when he's initiating fairly new social services for Philadelphia. (i.e.: circulating libraries, volunteer fire departments, and a university). However, I was very disapointed that despite writing in the 1780s, Franklin stops short in his account of his life before the Revolutionary War, but he spends a very long time describing his printing apprenticeship to his brother in Boston, and his machinations to shorten said apprenticeship.Also, I found Franklin and unreliable source. While I think most of the events recounted in the book happened, Franklin gets great enjoyment out of what he calls libelling and lampooning. Some of the anecdotes, such as his boss eating an entire roast pig smack of that. But, in the study of history all primary sources are worth reading so long as the reader understands the faults of the witness.