Book Review & Discussion :Benjamin Franklin

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An American Life

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In this event, you’ll learn

Why Benjamin’s father didn’t set him up for a career in church, like he intended to

What other books influenced him

How he started an army by accident

Which crucial piece of every modern house he invented (and what nickname that got him with his enemies)

The story of his intervention in politics

When he changed his mind about the US revolution

Which key line of the Declaration of Independence he changed

How he helped make sure the US would actually become a country

The political model he invented that’s still used to govern the US today

About the Author

Walter Isaacson, University Professor of History at Tulane, has been CEO of the Aspen Institute, chairman of CNN, and editor of Time magazine. He is the author of Leonardo da Vinci; The Innovators; Steve Jobs; Einstein: His Life and Universe; Benjamin Franklin: An American Life; and Kissinger: A Biography, and the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made.


Benjamin Franklin was the youngest son and 15th of 17 children of Josiah Franklin, a soap and candle maker who had immigrated to Boston from Northamptonshire, England. Because he disliked his father's trade but loved reading, he was apprenticed at the age of 12 to his brother James, a printer. He and James often disagreed, and finally Benjamin quit before his contract had expired. Looking for work, he went first to New York and then to Philadelphia, where he was hired by Samuel Keimer.

Governor Keith of Pennsylvania was impressed with Franklin and offered to set him up in business. Assuming that Keith had placed letters of credit for him on board his ship, Franklin sailed for England to purchase his printing equipment, only to find that no such letters had been written. He therefore was forced to spend several months working in a London printing house. But he returned home when a merchant named Denham offered him a good job as clerk and manager of Denham's Philadelphia store. A few months after they landed, however, Denham died, and Keimer rehired Franklin as his manager.

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