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Benjamin FranklinBenjamin Franklin

Edmund S. Morgan

Selected by Choice Magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2003

Named one of the best books of 2002 by Los Angeles Times Book Review

Named a Best Book of 2002 by Salt Lake City Tribune

Chosen as a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times Book Review

Chosen as a best book for 2002 by the Washington Post Book World

Chosen as a best book for 2002 by Publishers Weekly

A finalist for the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award in biography


Narrated by Rick Adamson

Available from Audible

Book published by Yale University Press

Benjamin Franklin is perhaps the most remarkable figure in American history: the greatest statesman of his age, he played a pivotal role in the formation of the American republic. He was also a pioneering scientist, a bestselling author, the country’s first postmaster general, a printer, a bon vivant, a diplomat, a ladies’ man, and a moralist—and the most prominent celebrity of the eighteenth century.

Franklin was, however, a man of vast contradictions, as Edmund Morgan demonstrates in this brilliant biography. A reluctant revolutionary, Franklin had desperately wished to preserve the British Empire, and he mourned the break even as he led the fight for American independence. Despite his passion for science, Franklin viewed his groundbreaking experiments as secondary to his civic duties. And although he helped to draft both the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution, he had personally hoped that the new American government would take a different shape. Unraveling the enigma of Franklin’s character, Morgan shows that he was the rare individual who consistently placed the public interest before his own desires.

Written by one of our greatest historians, Benjamin Franklin offers a provocative portrait of America’s most extraordinary patriot.

Edmund S. Morgan , Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University, has written more than a dozen books. Cited as “one of America’s most distinguished historians,” he was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2000.

Rick Adamson (narrator) has narrated dozens of audiobooks for major companies.


“Superb.... The best short biography of Franklin ever written.... [A] concise and beautifully written portrait of an American hero.”

—Gordon Wood, New York Review of Books

“Amid the mountains of material written by and about Benjamin Franklin ... this small and lovingly produced book stands out for its clarity and economy.... Such a considered but almost entirely admiring account of Benjamin Franklin is refreshingly revisionist.”

—Andrew Rosenheim, Times Literary Supplement

“The distinguished historian Edmund S. Morgan ...distill[s] the singularly eventful life of... Franklin... [to] give the great man, in every important sense, his due.... Morgan carefully documents and elucidates with scarcely a wasted word.”

Washington Post Book World

“A superb introduction to Franklin’s wide-ranging intellect, shrewdness, common-sense, good will, and his ’innate affinity for people of all kinds.”

Washington Times

“A model biography: pithy, wise, and — despite its brevity — complete. Franklin emerges as a quintessential hero of his time, and ours.”

Newsweek, "Fifty Books That Make Sense of Our Times"

“This best-selling biography has been praised for its accessibility and the author’s almost exclusive reliance upon Franklin’s own writing as his source. Morgan, in working on Yale’s monumental Papers of Benjamin Franklin, has studied virtually everything ever written by Franklin and is said to be one of few to have actually read everything written by Franklin, twice.”

American History

“[An] excellent portrait ... by the distinguished Yale historian Edmund Morgan.”

—Jay Tolson, U.S. News and World Report

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University Press Audiobooks