The First American

The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin

by H. W. Brands

Reviewed by Hal


A well-researched and detailed biography of Benjamin Franklin’s life from that of an almost penniless young runaway from Boston to Philadelphia who later became one of the most nationally and internationally respected men of his time. His belief in fair and representative government, his considerable political skills, inventive genius, scientific accomplishments, and business acumen were a mix of qualities rarely found in one person in that or any age.

The book also provides a unique insight into the formation the United States of America…from British colonial rule in North America, through the Revolutionary War, and on to establishing the U. S. government and drafting the Constitution.


The book was well-written. The author’s attention to detail did not detract from the book’s readability. I appreciated the wealth of detail as well as insights into Franklin’s lesser known private life and the balancing act he had to maintain in dealing with the governments of Great Britain and France. I recommend the book to anyone interested in early American history or this unique individual. I hope the reader will find this historic narrative as fascinating as I did.