Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
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.
School Library Journal Review
Adult/High School-This fascinating account provides a vivid picture of an extraordinary man adapting to changing times. Franklin was an intensely loyal British subject who looked forward to the time when he would take an active role in Britain's imperial schemes. His unshaken faith that the monarchy would inevitably behave fairly to the colonists blinded him to the growth of an increasingly powerful anti-British sentiment. Wood shows how Franklin was often completely out of touch with public opinion. At his death, America's brief, perfunctory eulogies sharply contrasted with the national mourning for him in France. In the 19th century, Franklin was rediscovered as the homespun philosopher, a simple man most noteworthy for his emphasis on self-improvement and industry. He was far more, as readers will discover. Black-and-white illustrations are included.-Kathy Tewell, Chantilly Regional Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Of all the Founding Fathers, none, not even Washington, is shrouded in so much myth and misinformation as Benjamin Franklin. Several recent biographers (Walter Isaacson, CH, Jan'04; Ronald Clark, CH, Jun'83) have offered more comprehensive lives than this one; but Wood (Brown Univ.)--the dean of American Revolution historians--focuses on those aspects of Franklin's life that belie the labels posterity has attached to him. Franklin preferred England and Paris to Philadelphia. He was obsessed with being seen as a "gentleman," and treated his own family abominably. He was loyal to the Crown until his personal, political ambitions in London were derailed. Nevertheless, he was a fascinating and likeable man, and may have done more than any other single individual to assure American independence. The last dozen pages are the most groundbreaking: Wood describes succinctly the 19th-century mythologization of Franklin that still colors the popular image. This superb book manages to debunk the myths and simultaneously preserve the unique status of the "first American." ^BSumming Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. T. S. Martin Sinclair Community College
Author notes provided by Syndetics
History professor and award-winning author Gordon S. Wood was born in Concord, Massachusetts on November 27, 1933. After graduating in 1955 from Tufts University he served in the US Air Force in Japan and earned his master's degree from Harvard University. In 1964, Wood earned his Ph. D. in history from Harvard, and he taught there, as well as at the College of William and Mary and the University of Michigan, before joining the Brown University faculty in 1969. <p> Wood has published a number of articles and books, including The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787, which won the Bancroft Prize and the John H. Dunning Prize in 1970, and The Radicalism of the American Revolution, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History and the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize in 1993. He has won many other awards in the past five decades from organizations such as the American Historical Association, the New York Historical Society, and the Fraunces Tavern Museum. Wood is a fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. In 2014, his book, The American Revolution: A History, was on the New York Times bestseller list. <p> (Bowker Author Biography)