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The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin
Gordon S. Wood
Adult Nonfiction E302.6.F8 W84 2004

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Eminent revolutionary historian Wood illuminates the life and times of perhaps our nation's most symbolic yet enigmatic forefather. Born of modest roots, Benjamin Franklin displayed from an early age a sharp mind and a literary gift, which served him as he went on to amass a small fortune, mostly as a printer, and to emerge as a civic leader. Wood, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for The Radicalism of the American Revolution, shows how Franklin's skills and charm enabled him to complete the remarkable transition from humble beginnings to gentlemanly status, occupying his later years with scientific experiments, philosophy and statesmanship. Wood also introduces us to Franklin the loyal British subject, who could scarcely conceive of a colonial government independent of the British, yet, in 1776, at the age of 70, came to play a key role in the Revolution. He secured the help of the French, who in turn helped ultimately to define Franklin as the "symbolic American." This is not a comprehensive biography. Instead, Wood's purpose is to supplant our common knowledge of Franklin as the iconic, folksy author of Poor Richard's Almanac with a different, richer portrait, a look at how a man "not even destined to be an American" became, paradoxically, the "symbol of America." What emerges is a fascinating portrait of Franklin, not only as a forefather but as a man. Illus. Agent, Andrew Wylie. (May 24) Forecast: Has readers' curiosity about Franklin been sated by Edmund Morgan's recent brief study and Walter Isaacson's full-length bio, both bestsellers? Wood's reputation could still give this legs. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Benjamin Franklin is considered one of America's greatest men and is arguably the most important Founding Father after Washington. However, what most Americans don't realize is that for much of his life Franklin was a fervent loyalist and British imperialist who, even as late as 1775, felt that the differences between Britain and the Colonies could be settled in "half an hour." Wood (history, Brown Univ.) examines Franklin's evolution from Crown official (he served as postmaster general for the Colonies) to one of America's most outspoken revolutionaries. Franklin spent so much time in England (at one point living in London for ten years) that he was often out of touch with American opinion; he supported both the Stamp Act and the Townshend Duties, for instance. In fact, upon his return to America in 1775, many thought he was a spy for the British. Also examined are Franklin's controversial views on democracy, which made him a hero in France but placed him at odds with the new American government, and how he eventually came to epitomize the myth of the self-made American. Well written and researched, this book provides a fresh perspective on one of America's most distinguished figures. Recommended for most libraries. Robert Flatley, Kutztown Univ. Lib., PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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