I swear I didn’t know he would be Job’s biographer when I purchased this book. I purchased it after reading the Einstein biography by Mr. Isaacson several months ago. This biography is on par with that one. Insightful and complete, we get an good appreciation for this mythical patriot of American values. Now, the one misgiving I have is that Mr. Isaacson preaches to these so-called American values on nearly every other paragraph. His point, of course, is that Ben Franklin was so instrumental in shaping the American destiny (the creator of the US Postal Service, the design of the dollar, the creation of the militia, the signature of the Declaration of Independence, Peace accords with England and France as well as the Constitution). However, I think that the point became a little overbearing after a while. America was created by 10s of thousands of patriots, no merely old Ben important as he was nonetheless.
As for the subject, he was fascinating – I especially preferred his early years of scientific inquiry and base politics in Pennsylvania over the later diplomacy and somewhat idle living. Actually, the first 50 or so years of his life take up only the first 100 or so pages while the next 400 pages deal with the last 30 years. A bit disproportionate but given the importance of the American Revolution and all…still at times I felt it was not long enough when dealing with his science and philosophy and that it was too long when dealing with his many acquaintances and diplomatic contacts.
As this is the first Ben Franklin biography I have read, I would be amiss to say that this one was the “best one”. In any case, it is entertaining and educational and a nice read. Will I be reading the bio of Kissinger by the same author? Not on your life. and Jobs? Well, maybe but my reading list is still a little backlogged so not in the next 6 months I am afraid. I’ll let the hype die down a bit first.