Extended Audio Sample

Download Benjamin Franklin: An American Life Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Benjamin Franklin: An American Life Audiobook, by Walter Isaacson Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (17,554 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Walter Isaacson Narrator: Boyd Gaines Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2003 ISBN: 9780743561853
Regular Price: $17.95 Add to Cart
— or —
FlexPass™ Price: $12.95$5.95$5.95 for new members!
Add to Cart learn more )

Benjamin Franklin is the founding father who winks at us -- an ambitious urban entrepreneur who rose up the social ladder, from leather-aproned shopkeeper to dining with kings.
In bestselling author Walter Isaacson's vivid and witty full-scale biography, we discover why Franklin turns to us from history's stage with eyes that twinkle from behind his new-fangled spectacles. In Benjamin Franklin, Isaacson shows how Franklin defines both his own time and ours.
The most interesting thing that Franklin invented, and continually reinvented, was himself. America's first great publicist, he was consciously trying to create a new American archetype. In the process, he carefully crafted his own persona, portrayed it in public, and polished it for posterity. His guiding principle was a "dislike of everything that tended to debase the spirit of the common people." Few of his fellow founders felt this comfort with democracy so fully, and none so intuitively.
In this colorful and intimate narrative, Isaacson provides the full sweep of Franklin's amazing life, from his days as a runaway printer to his triumphs as a statesman, scientist, and Founding Father. He chronicles Franklin's tumultuous relationship with his illegitimate son and grandson, his practical marriage, and his flirtations with the ladies of Paris. He also shows how Franklin helped to create the American character and why he has a particular resonance in the twenty-first century. Download and start listening now!

BK_SANS_000448

Quotes & Awards

  • “Given the nature and accomplishments of the man, any biography of Benjamin Franklin has to be the chronicle of a half-dozen or more lives in one, all lived with amazing energy, and all extremely interesting. And so, happily, it is in this splendid new look at the incomparable Franklin, who remains one of those American about whom we can never know enough. Walter Isaacson writes with great vitality, intelligence, and a clear-eyed understanding of the worlds of politics, the press, and the human equations of high-level diplomacy. This is a book I’ve looked forward to for a long time and that I’ve found wholly enthralling from beginning to end.” 

    David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize–winning author

  • “Isaacson’s splendid Benjamin Franklin is both an absorbing narrative biography and an acute assessment of the man and his impact on his times and on posterity. After all, Franklin, the man who did so much to invent America, is the most modern of the Founding Fathers and vividly embodies the virtues and contradictions of the national character.” 

    Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Pulitzer Prize–winning author

  • “A thoroughly researched, crisply written, convincingly argued chronicle…A prime candidate for the authoritative Franklin of our time.” 

    New York Times Book Review

  • “An immensely readable telling of a remarkable life…An indispensable and highly entertaining addition to the long afterlife of Benjamin Franklin.” 

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alex Agranovsky | 2/5/2014

    " Extraordinary man. The breadth of his accomplishments, from science to politics is hard to overestimate. Incredible life. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan Fetterer | 1/22/2014

    " Used my Groupon coupon at B & N today to buy a copy of this book. I'd been reading a borrowed copy while visiting relatives and now can dig back into it. Glad to get back to it... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alan | 1/16/2014

    " Though such a significant figure in the formation of the United States I was struck by his integrity (and lack of it). I thought this biography informative but it dragged a bit for me. A good read to increase one's understanding of colonial times and one of the key figures in the earliest days of the Republic. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa C | 1/7/2014

    " Finally done. Took me forever, but I did learn a lot. Least intended: that Ben Franklin was a jerk. Brilliant on the invention end, though. Also learned a great deal about the shaping of America, so it was all worth it right there. A good read for someone more into non-fiction than I. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mark Sigman | 1/5/2014

    " A lot of gritty details I didn't know. Overall good book, dragged at times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Annette | 12/22/2013

    " Great overview of Franklin's life, but started to lose me at the end with the chapter on how everyone else viewed Franklin throughout history (including Steven Covey). "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leslie | 12/21/2013

    " He was an amazing individual!! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Peter Lyte | 12/13/2013

    " Extremely readable and great history. Both of Issacson's successor works on Einstein & Jobs don't come close to this work, IMHO. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Charlene | 12/5/2013

    " Read this book when I visited Philadelphia. It was fun to read about something and then go to the actual site. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Debby | 11/21/2013

    " great insights into the life of a truly remarkable man who embodies the true american spirit. he is probably turning over in his grave "viewing" what is going on in washington today. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Madonna | 11/17/2013

    " It took me forever to read this book, not because it was uninteresting, but because I was reading other books, as well. I have always admired Benjamin Franklin and this book made him all the more a hero of mine, and somewhat it feels like I know him as a fellow friend. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Warren Leishman | 11/9/2013

    " A very readable popular history that shows what a remarkable man Franklin was. Looks behind the myths and makes him come alive as a true renaissance man. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa | 10/12/2013

    " Very interesting. I'm glad I read it, although at times I had to force myself to pick it up. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Arshad Chowdhury | 3/1/2013

    " A wonderful portrait of an incredibly productive genius. The only problem with this book is that sometimes it dives too far into detail, republishing entire letters of correspondence. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Katharine | 2/18/2013

    " Slow at first but worth the struggle...picks up after the Stamp Act... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Richard Kirsch | 1/11/2013

    " Book gives interesting insights into a very interesting life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joshua Woodbury | 12/7/2012

    " Sometimes I think Benjamin Franklin's personal shortcomings with his family and womanizing are focused on more than the shortcomings of other founding fathers. However, the breadth of his influence both in the 1700's and its lingering effects today is remarkable and perhaps unparalleled. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ultan Prendergast | 10/17/2012

    " An enjoyable read and well written biography of Franklin; an Enlightened man and a true republican. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mira Crisp | 12/26/2011

    " Love Ben, love Walter. Definitely a good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wes | 12/23/2011

    " Still one of my favorite books of all time. Shows the man from birth to present in just the right light. Goes into his talks in France, inventions, but even better, breaks down his very true personality that is not an exaggeration from what we see in impersonators today. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary-Ellen | 6/21/2011

    " Daunting in scope and page count, the book begins explaining the lineage of the Franklin family. So I used the method of refering to the Index to locate the interesting topics for me. This made the book much more digestible. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jacque | 6/9/2011

    " A good history book. Easy reading but also easy to put down. I didn't know that ole Ben was such a philanderer! Great scientist & politician, but I lost a little respect for him in the husband department. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Debbie | 5/24/2011

    " My idol. Loved this book. It read like a novel. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 4/16/2011

    " I thought Mr. Isaacson wrote a remarkable account of the life of Benjamini Franklin. If you are a bit unsure of Franklin's contribution to the founding of our nation, I'm sure this book will enlighten you knowledge of this great patriot..

    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Darlene | 4/13/2011

    " Statesman, genius, and old rake. That says it all. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shelby | 3/21/2011

    " No other way to understand American History "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jack | 3/10/2011

    " One of the Greatest Americans .
    I love biographical history and this book was really easy to read .
    Be looking for more by this author. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Emmy | 2/9/2011

    " I have read other books by Isaacson and thought they were great but it just kind of felt like he phoned this one in. I didn't feel a real passion from him for this topic; it felt like he was going through the motions. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heidi | 1/18/2011

    " I had no idea of the numerous things we must thank this man for, nor the extensive role he played in the American Revolution. This was easily read and fascinating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bob | 1/10/2011

    " Old Ben rose considerably in my estimation, not just as a statesman, but for his scientific contributions as well. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donna | 1/9/2011

    " Surprised by how much I enjoyed and how engaged I became with this book. It had everything. Wonderful job by Walter Isaacson. This is a great vehicle for learning, not only about Benjamin Franklin, but about the times in which he lived. Totally recommend it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Louise | 12/29/2010

    " Read this book in 2004. Very good bio on Franklin. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Greg | 12/23/2010

    " Excellent book, one of the most readable and enjoyable biographies I have ever read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Charlene | 12/21/2010

    " Read this book when I visited Philadelphia. It was fun to read about something and then go to the actual site. "

Write a Review
What is FlexPass?
  • Your first audiobook is just $5.95
  • Over 90% are at or below $12.95
  • "LOVE IT" guarantee
  • No time limits or expirations
About the Author
Author Walter Isaacson

Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, has been chairman of CNN and the editor of Time magazine. He is the chairman of the board of Teach for America, an organization that recruits recent college graduates to teach in underprivileged communities; he was also appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other international broadcasts of the United States. He is the author of Steve Jobs, Einstein: His Life and Universe, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, and Kissinger: A Biography. Isaacson currently lives with his wife and daughter in Washington, DC.

About the Narrator

Boyd Gaines’ many film credits include Second Best, I’m Not Rappaport, Heartbreak Ridge, Fame, and Porky’s. He’s won two Tony Awards for performances in the The Heidi Chronicles and the musical She Loves Me. On television he’s appeared in A Woman Called Jackie, A Son’s Promise, and in the popular series One Day at a Time.