I recently published my review of Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia, so I won’t go into another outline of Franklin life. Instead I’ll mention a few of the differences between the text of that book and this.
I felt that Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia gave a more balanced presentation of his life in the sense that equal space was given to discussing the different parts of his life. His younger years, especially were given more time than in Benjamin Franklin, and the book never seemed to park in any part of his life.
On the other hand, Benjamin Franklin went into greater depth discussing the political currents and historical events surrounding Benjamin Franklin’s life. Also, the middle portion of Ben’s life – from the establishing of his own print shop to his first trip as a foreign ambassador – was given greater attention than in Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia.
While Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia was nothing but text, Benjamin Franklin contained lots of paintings and illustrations. Two of those illustrations are of political cartoons, each of which feature a human skull. [pgs. 79 & 82]
On page 29 is an illustration of a woman in a scoop-necked dress. In chapter five we learn that when Franklin went to England the first time it was in the company of James Ralph who, though already a husband and a father, took a fancy to a young hatmaker. Shortly after the Franklin’s wedding, he asked Deborah to admit Ben’s illegitimate son into their household.
This paragraph occurs in chapter nine.
If Deborah had had a jealous nature, marriage to Franklin would have been agony. He reveled in the company of women, and women lavished attention upon him. Two years before he set out for England, he met a young Rhode Island woman, Catherine Ray, who sent him a series of yearning love letters. Apparently Franklin flirted with her in the beginning. But his surviving letters indicate that he quickly toned down the relationship. Friendship was fine, but he would be faithful to his wife. “Mrs. Franklin was very proud that a young lady should have so much regard for her old husband,” he wrote to Catherine. “[She] talks of bequeathing me to you as a legacy; but I… hope she will live these hundred years; for we are grown old together, and if she has any faults I am so used to ‘em that I don’t perceive ‘em.” [pg. 76]
Conclusion. This book would do better for a slightly older student than the reader of Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia.
Review © 2014 Laura Verret