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572 Walter Isaacson: Benjamin Franklin

“Benjamin Franklin: An American Life” is a comprehensive biography that explores the multifaceted life and remarkable achievements of Benjamin Franklin.



"Benjamin Franklin: An American Life" by Walter Isaacson is a detailed and engaging biography that chronicles the life and contributions of one of America's most influential figures, Benjamin Franklin. Isaacson delves into Franklin's early years, his rise from humble beginnings to becoming a renowned scientist, inventor, diplomat, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. The biography offers insights into Franklin's intellect, curiosity, entrepreneurial spirit, and his pivotal role in shaping American history. Isaacson explores Franklin's scientific experiments, his inventions such as the lightning rod and bifocals, his political career, and his writings. The book delves into Franklin's contributions to the fields of science, politics, and diplomacy, as well as his personal life and the complex relationships he cultivated. It presents a balanced and nuanced portrait of a remarkable man whose ideas and actions continue to resonate in modern times.


  1. Title: Benjamin Franklin: An American Life 
  2. Author: Walter Isaacson 
  3. Publishing Year: 2003 
  4. Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
  5. Length in Hours: 24 hrs and 40 mins

5 main ideas

  1. Benjamin Franklin's Early Years: The biography examines Franklin's formative years, his upbringing, education, and the experiences that shaped his character and intellectual development.
  2. Scientific Contributions and Inventions: Isaacson explores Franklin's scientific experiments, including his groundbreaking work on electricity, as well as his inventions and technological innovations.
  3. Political and Diplomatic Career: The book delves into Franklin's involvement in politics, his role in the American Revolution, and his diplomatic missions in France, where he played a crucial part in securing French support for the American cause.
  4. Literary and Intellectual Pursuits: Isaacson examines Franklin's writings, including his famous autobiography, his newspaper articles, and his contributions to the emerging field of American literature.
  5. Benjamin Franklin's Legacy: The biography explores the lasting impact of Franklin's ideas, his influence on American democracy, his contributions to the formation of the United States, and his enduring reputation as a polymath and Renaissance figure.

5 funny quotes

  1. "Wish not so much to live long as to live well."
  2. "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."
  3. "Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days."
  4. "Fish and visitors stink in three days."
  5. "Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn."
  2. "An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."
  3. "Well done is better than well said."
  4. "Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning."
  5. "Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What's a sundial in the shade?"

5 dilemmas

  1. The dilemma of balancing personal ambition and public service: Franklin had to navigate between his desire for personal success and recognition, and his commitment to the welfare of his community and the newly formed United States.
  2. The dilemma of prioritizing scientific pursuits over political and diplomatic responsibilities: Franklin's love for science and his commitment to political affairs sometimes created a conflict in allocating his time and energy.
  3. The dilemma of handling financial matters and managing debts: Franklin encountered various financial challenges throughout his life, which required him to make difficult decisions and find innovative solutions.
  4. The dilemma of confronting societal norms and advocating for progressive ideas: Franklin challenged established traditions and norms, promoting ideas such as religious tolerance, women's education, and the abolition of slavery, which often faced resistance.
  5. The dilemma of balancing personal relationships with professional commitments: Franklin's numerous friendships, romantic interests, and family relationships occasionally clashed with his extensive work engagements, leading to conflicts and tough choices.

5 examples

  1. Benjamin Franklin's involvement in the formation of the United States and his collaboration with fellow Founding Fathers such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams.
  2. Franklin's role as a printer and publisher, including his ownership of the Pennsylvania Gazette and his contributions to the establishment of the Library Company of Philadelphia.
  3. Franklin's involvement in civic organizations, such as the Junto, a group of intellectuals and entrepreneurs who met to discuss various topics and promote personal and civic improvement.
  4. Franklin's engagement in scientific societies, including his membership in the Royal Society in London and his contributions to the study of electricity.
  5. Franklin's diplomatic missions in France, where he interacted with influential figures of the time, including King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

Referenced books

  1. "The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin"
  2. "Poor Richard's Almanack"
  3. "The Federalist Papers"
  4. "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine
  5. "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith

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"Wish not so much to live long as to live well."

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