Monday, January 11, 2010

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin (review)

Title: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Author: Benjamin Franklin
Illustrator: N/A
Kindle Locations: 2,513
Genre: Biography
Dewey Decimal: Bio Fra
Kindle Cost: Free

To put this book into perspective, let me quote my doctor who recently surprised me with his familiarity with Ben Franklin.

"He's full of himself, isn't he?"

Yep, that pretty much sums up this entire book, but keep in mind that it is an auto-biography. Which means it is written with a very obvious slant to how things have happened. But I expected that going into it and was not caught off guard.

What was surprising to me were the number of ideas and projects that Franklin was involved in. Again, I am sure he may have exageratted his involvement to some degree (intentionally or not), but everything from public works projects to science experiments kept me reading.

And then he has the whole section on self improvement and eating a vegitartion diet. I never new he was a vegetarian for a time. I knew he worked on his bad habits and tried to improve himself as a person, but never knew he went without meat.
These names of virtues, with their precepts, were: 1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation. 2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. 3. ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time. 4. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. 5. FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing. 6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions. 7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly. 8. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty. 9. MODERATION. Avoid extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve. 10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation. 11. TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable. 12. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation. 13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.
What I really missed reading about were his nocturnal exploits. As a kid, I was always taught Franklin was the guy with a kite in a lighting storm. It was in college that I learned Franklin was a dirty old man and liked to get in the sack with the ladies. But alas, that was not in my edition, and I frankly doubt he would write something so shocking in there anyway.

In the end, it was an interesting account of part of Franklin's life, but clearly was not the whole story. I would recommend starting your Franklin research here, but by no means will this cover every detail you need to get the true picture.
And, indeed, if it be the design of Providence to extirpate these savages in order to make room for cultivators of the earth, it seems not improbable that rum may be the appointed means. It has already annihilated all the tribes who formerly inhabited the sea-coast.

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