Book Review: 'Autobiography of Ben Franklin'

The Autobiography Of Benjamin FranklinThe Autobiography Of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

For the second time this year I have read Ben Franklin's autobiography, and for the second time I am wondering why the life story of this great thinker and outstanding citizen who played a principal role in the founding of the United States was not required reading when I was a public school student.

The youngest son of a Boston chandler who had fathered 17 children and thought Ben might be educated to become a clergyman, Ben was a determined, imaginative kid who had other ideas. When the money ran out for the grammar school, Ben's father thought he might do well working with numbers. When that didn't work out, his father thought he might becom a chandler.

Ben had other ideas, and he pursued them. He got himself into the printing business and rose to the top of that fledgling industry by virtue of his virtue. He didn't drink, he worked whatever hours were necessary to get the job done, no job was too small, and it showed.

in addition, he was a reader, and his literary holdings made him a young man worth knowing that his books might be borrowed. Ben Franklin made his way to the top of the social ladder by sharing his books with governors and other key players. Literacy counts.

Common sense showed Franklin that much could be accomplished for the communities in which he lived when people collaborated and shared financial responsibility. A little money from everyone went a long way to creating fire departments, public libraries, systems of street sweeping, public universities, public meeting halls, militia....Name it.

Cooperation under the direction of leaders with integrity built this nation. Nobody was perfect--including Franklin, who said so straight up in his own story--but they dared to dream in a big way and to reach beyond themselves. They did not look back but forward. And it was fun. That's according to Franklin, whose biography is at once a philosophical treatise, a study of ethics, an argument for taxation with representation, a history of the free press, and the story of a boy's coming of age.

Read it and dream of America. Require it of yourself.

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  1. Interesting, everybody invokes our founding fathers but I don't think that too many of us take the time to actually find out about them.

  2. I'm sad to say that I think literacy wouldn't be as valued today.

  3. Sounds like a good read to me.

  4. And today it's all different Sandy.
    Franklin was right in trying to keep control local.It worked a lot better this way. This is why we never thought The Euro dollar would work because some countries work hard and others do more social stuff with less jobs.
    Before it was about libraries and book stores and today it's about kindle.Every where you look regular jobs are being taken away.

  5. You explain America's greatness in few words. Excellent, Sandy. You have a gift to see and to share.
    Born teacher, convincer!

    Aloha from Honolulu
    Comfort Spiral
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