Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Simple Book Review: In Their Own Words (Benjamin Franklin)

In Their Own Words: Benjamin Franklin (2000) by Peter and Connie Roop

Once I thought of reading Walter Isaacson’s 550+ pages of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (2004) but it is so thick and very detail. I just want to read for inspirations and get a glimpse of Franklin’s life, so I read this simpler, thinner biography just 112 pages. This book is very interesting, clear and smooth reading. I read in one sitting in the library today (this is how I spent my off day). Everyone must know this man, don’t ever think that he is exclusive for Americans only, this man literally change the world. Roop writes, “Even without all the writing Ben Franklin left, the world would still remember his remarkable life.”

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was much more than one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, however. He was a father, a husband, a friend, an author, a poet (never last), a printer, an inventor, an entrepreneur, a scientist, a diplomat, an ambassador, a representative, an initiator – and of all, a true American thinker.

What I like about Ben is his hunger for knowledge and continuous pursue for personal development. He was a vivid reader too. Ben loved to read and learn throughout his life. When he was working with his brother, James, at the printing press, he wrote, “I now had access to better books. Often I sat in my room reading the greatest part of the night [and]… early in the morning, lest it should be missed.” Ben also recalled, “From a child I was fond of reading, and all the little money that came into my hands was ever laid out in books.” Because of his natural curiosity, Ben read widely: science, religion, politics, novels and essays.

Another thing I like about Ben is that he was born without privilege or wealth. He becomes who he is known today through hard work, faith, intelligence and determination. His legacy includes the ideas of fire department, a national postal system, free library, a hospital (with his fellow scientists), freedom of slavery, and a university. He was the inventors of ‘armonica’, bifocal glasses, lightning rods, and many more that make life easier and safer for people (there is one experiment that was very dangerous for his own life, namely, flying a kite in a thunderstorm to prove that lighting was indeed electricity). Ben’s life was an exciting journey. On his deathbed he wrote a letter to a friend, he said he would die with “little regrets, as, having seen during a long life a good deal of this world, I feel a growing curiosity to be acquainted with some other.”

Franklin died peacefully in his home with his family, his inventions, and his books. With this, I closed this book with gladness and inspired. Next time, when you go to the library or bookstore, when you see a biography of Benjamin Franklin, please consider to read it – better, buy it.

[I also watched “Biography Series: Benjamin Franklin, Citizen of the World” DVD to explore more about Ben’s life. Both materials I borrowed from the library. See, knowledge is free for the curious minds!]


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