Franklin the humorist, scientific researcher and statesman was creative and charming enough to redeem a host of faults. That he had towering faults is clear even from this fatally biased account, although I take it ill that the author buried some unworthy behavior. One strongly suspects that Postmaster Franklin pilfered his enemy’s private correspondence, which Isaacson pretends didn’t happen. He avoids considering Franklin’s pointless betrayal of his political partner Galloway and actually seems to relish B. F.’s weakness for political intrigue. That as Ambassador to France Franklin tolerated spies in his employ comes off as less of an offense than John Adams’ “sourness.” I suppose Isaacson was dazzled by Franklin’s celebrity. I can understand up to a point, but not to tolerating books that inspired the characterization of Biography as “bastard child of History.” It maddens that people distort the record, but in fairness this is still readable and entertaining. Fortunately, “The First American” by H. W. Brands is fun and much more reliable. That one I can recommend heartily. This one gave me an excuse to vent, which is a form of fun.

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