Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography ends in 1758, some thirty years before he died, yet those three decades included some of the statesman's greatest triumphs. Paul Zall has created a new autobiographical account of Franklin's entire life. By returning to a newly recovered early draft of the Autobiography, he strips away later layers of moralizing to reveal the story as Franklin first wrote it: how a poor boy from Boston used words and hard work to become America's first world-class citizen. To cover Franklin's career as a diplomat and as the only signatory of all three key documents of the American Revolution, Zall interweaves autobiographical comments from Franklin's personal letters and private journals. Franklin emerges as different from the common perception. His raw words reveal the bitter infighting among both British and American politicians and his personal struggle with his son's choice of the opposite side in the fight for the future of two countries. Without the veneer of second thoughts, his lifelong struggle to control his temper carries greater poignancy, as do his later years spent nursing his wounded pride. Susceptible to both fallibility and frustration, the honest Franklin depicted in his own words nevertheless remains an uncommon common man, perhaps even more so than previously thought.
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