The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin

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Gordon Wood presents a riveting discussion on the evolution of Benjamin Franklin. Much that I thought I knew about Franklin has either been challenged as simplistic or deepened far beyond expectations.

Many have tried to portray the ‘father’s’ of the American Revolution in rather absolute and fanciful caricatures that have merely served distract contemporary Americans from discovering the truth about their national identity – confounding our ability to rationally confront our twenty-first century social issues. Wood’s research re-introduces the modern reader to the complexities of the 18th century which, I hope, will inspire the reader to abandon any inclination to imagine our day with any less awareness. Franklin was not what either we or they wanted him to be in order to remain ignorant of reality. He was a far less than perfect man, but one who was willing to engage the larger picture of his day, as we should our own. May our exploration of his life inform us as we pursue the one before us.

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