Gaustad's entry into Oxford's ""Lives and Legacies"" series provides a brief but informative look at one of the then-nascent U.S.'s most complicated personalities. Gaustad, a history professor and author of works on Roger Williams and Thomas Jefferson, compresses what could be a multi-volume biography into 160 lively pages that render Franklin far more complex than a proverb-proffering, portly patriot who played with lightning rods. Gaustad mentions Franklin's illegitimate son; his common-law marriage with his beloved wife; his scientific experiments, including his early toyings with electricity; his role in forming the post office, fire departments and public libraries; his religious and social beliefs (he was one of the first noteworthy abolitionists); his success as a printer, which allowed him to retire in his mid-forties; and his role as a British statesman before the Revolutionary War changed his loyalties. True, these accomplishments cannot be fully explored in this brisk history, but Gaustad's slim volume is a great starting point. Photos.
Reviewed on: 02/06/2006 Release date: 02/01/2006 Genre: Nonfiction