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The Age of Benjamin Franklin  By  cover art

The Age of Benjamin Franklin

By: The Great Courses
Narrated by: Professor Robert J. Allison PhD Harvard University
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Publisher's Summary

We all have certain images of Ben Franklin: the witty Founding Father who promoted independence; the Philadelphia printer who created Poor Richard's Almanack; the scientist who conducted experiments with kites in electrical storms; the author of what is arguably America's best-known autobiography. These images reveal an intellectually curious and successful man of the 18th century, but they don't fully capture the full spirit of one of the most extraordinary Americans - perhaps the quintessential American. 

Why is Benjamin Franklin so compelling? What made him so successful in his day? And why has he continued to influence generations of Americans? Tackle these questions and more in The Age of Benjamin Franklin, a thorough - and sometimes surprising - course that presents a full portrait of a personality that defies easy definition. Taught by Professor Robert J. Allison of Suffolk University, these 24 insightful lectures explore the many facets of Franklin's life and times. From his humble beginnings as the son of a Boston soap maker to a world-renowned diplomat, you'll explore the many sides of this complex man, who somehow found time to: 

  • Build a national printing business 
  • Open America's first library 
  • Pioneer the development of the post office 
  • Publish a number of satires 
  • Invent the Franklin stove 
  • Help create and codify the science of electricity 
  • Write a string quartet 
  • Write one of the first texts about chess published in the US 
  • Take up swimming 
  • Write his memoirs 

Amid all that, Franklin traveled the world, helped draft the Declaration of Independence, negotiated for support during the war and peace after, served in Congress, and helped establish American government. He was a busy, busy man: ambitious, worldly, imaginative, and forward thinking, representing the best output from the Age of Enlightenment.  

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2018 The Teaching Company, LLC; 2018 The Great Courses (P)2018 The Great Courses

What listeners say about The Age of Benjamin Franklin

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It's a lecture

I suppose it would be different if you were in a classroom setting, but the narration has adds no life to a man who had a tremendous amount of it. Had to return it 1 chapter in.

5 people found this helpful

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Great book, well delivered

I loved the way this book was delivered. Not only was it interesting, but it was really an enjoyable listen! Lived it.

4 people found this helpful

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Engaging!

A fascinating portrait of a fascinating man! I could listen to this professor for hours. I highly recommend!

2 people found this helpful

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Mediocre

A disappointment for Great Courses. Wandering and repetitive. Of the seven Great courses books I have read so far, this is the first one that disappoints.

2 people found this helpful

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Enjoyable for me.

I have always been fascinated by Franklin and wanted to learn more. Being more conservative minded I was nervous about what kind of spin I would get. I found this to be strictly on the topic and, at least for me, a very enjoyable listen. It is like sitting in a classroom, but I didn’t mind at all. Very good job, definitely worth a listen!

2 people found this helpful

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A Very interesting course…

…and small wonder because it is about about one of America’s most interesting men. Well worth the listen whether you are new to Franklin, somewhat conversant (me) or, I suspect, an expert. Professor Allison delivers…to my taste, better at 1.5x than 1.0x…and although clearly excited with his subject, refrains from a PC agenda or hindsight judgment (so typical of today’s historians) gives us a remarkably Great Course.

1 person found this helpful

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One of the best on Ben Franklin - Must Read!

I loved the way Professor Robert J. Allison arranged the content of this course! Too often historical lectures follow a 'time line' perspective which can be dry. Prof. Allison chose to approach this amazing man's life in a very different way that sequentially built upon his widely varied areas of genius. This is a course to go back to again and again and enjoy!

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In-Depth Franklin

The lecture series sounds like it was presented by a professor which in fact it was. One thing of note it does not follow Franklin’s life chronologically but rather by topics. My main annoyance with the professor is his repeated phrase that we will talk more about this later. Why bring it up if we’re gonna talk about it later? This word does appear to be more accurate than Benjamin Franklin‘s own autobiography I found it overall to be enjoyable and very informative

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Excellent!

This course will keep you engaged and fascinated!
There is an amazing amount of information for anyone, regardless of how much prior knowledge you bring.

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Franklin front and center

Great job by Great Courses to have a lecturer who can actually deliver the material in such a clear and manner pleasing voice. I enjoy history, but this seems like a course a non-history buff would enjoy due to the brief lectures and the variety of details. In my mind this is the way history should be taught 5-12 grades.

I read Franklins autobiography as a 10 or 11 year old as well as 1-2 more times in HS. I have also read 1 Franklin biography by HW Brands. I have several others unread so this course helps with motivation to crack them open and get going.