I read a lot, and since I can read at work frequently, I tend to read pretty fast. The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by H. W. Brands, kicked my ass. I took me more than two weeks to finish this book. It's only about 700 pages, but it took me for-freakin-ever. This is by no means becaue it didn't keep my attention. In fact quite the opposite. There is so much information in this book that it's overwhelming. Ben Franklin was an amazing man. The fact that Franklin is mostly remember for political reasons, is a disservice to a man who was a writer, an inventor, a scientist, and more. He lived a long, full life in which he invented the things you know, such as bifocals and the Franklin Stove, but also a musical instrument. The First American tells Franklin's story in a way that keeps your attention and is thourough to an amazing degree. Most of the information comes directly from Franklin's writings and many sections are told in his own words. It tracks his life from birth, through his becoming a runaway apprentice, to England, into American Government, then to France and back to America to contribute to the creation of a new nation based on reason and virtue. His philosophy was that it was the good in men that made society work. Perhaps if more people had followed his lead, American history would have been very different, even to the point of avoiding the civil war. Who knows. The First American was well written and engaging. The only complaint I might have is that, like many biographies, there seemed to be very little focus on the negatives in his life.
8 of 10