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When someone hears the name Benjamin Franklin, what hits the mind is a multi-talented genius man of the 16th century. Being a successful scientist who came up with lots of inventions, a master of literature, a shrewd businessman, a renowned diplomat as well as a popular politician, his name bears a legacy of being the father of all Yankees. Thus, when an autobiography of himself was released on December 28, 2006, titled “Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin”, it was irresistible to ignore it. Benjamin Franklin himself wrote the book, that was edited by Frank Woodworth Pine. The autobiography generally describes Franklin’s achievements in all his endeavors and aims to bring out the facts about him, earlier unknown by many. The autobiography is written in two parts, one as a letter to his son, William Franklin, and the other as a continuation when he had become old since he did not get a chance to complete his work due to interruptions. Franklin’s biography is a perfect source of inspiration, (especially to the youth), and has a lot of relevance to our lives today. As illustrated in the following paragraphs, despite the autobiography being written centuries ago, it is very material and influential to today’s generation.
The autobiography touched upon every single detail about Franklin’s life, from January 17, 1706, to 1784, at the time it was being written. First, he researched his family and got their statistics in terms of marriages and burials from 1555. He explained to his son about their misfortunes before they rose to success in different ways (for those who did) and explained reasons why those who failed to make it failed. Franklin told about his desire to learn and making reading a hobby as a result. He described how his inquisitive nature helped him grow when his brother was working for a newspaper firm and he spent a lot of time with him. However, he had to ignore the critics who belittled it, claiming it would not succeed. He experienced unexpected leadership for the paper when his brother was imprisoned for having “taken offense” with the Assembly, and faced the task fearlessly and boldly, despite the challenges.
Franklin described determination when differences arose between him and his brother, and he stood up for the truth. He had to stop working, and he went far away since it would be difficult for him to even get employed elsewhere. Young and broken, however, he managed to go to Philadelphia, where he suffered a great deal looking for ways to sustain himself. He never once gave up, and finally landed a job with two printers. Effectiveness was what made him climb up when he attracted the likes of governors with his writing. They were amused and inquired about his history, thereby, connecting him with his father. Ability to make friends was key to his survival in Philadelphia, as they helped him in times of need. His adventurous nature also made him visit new places and learn new things. Sharing his knowledge and fortune also helped him a great deal, since those helped felt obliged to return the favor when Franklin needed it.
Shrewdness in business was also vital, listening to advice from smart people, and ignoring critics’ opinions, and identifying the societal niche. The observation was also his strong senses, and he witnessed that the people’s service was poorly handled and decided to make the decision to join public service. Integrity is another key principle followed and made him continue to be at loggerheads with the rich and the noble as he fought for equality in society. Despite this opposition, he kept his integrity levels high and never once agreed to illegal deals. He continuously fought for moral perfection since he believed that he had come that far because of God. The right company helped him since he associated himself with reasonable minds who inspired him and got him elected to run public affairs. He later got interested in scientific experiments and curiosity coupled with necessity inspired him to invent new scientific devices and principles that are used till date.
Personally, I liked the book very much. This is because the book uses simple language to explain the very complex details. The events are arranged in chronological order and it gets easier and easier to understand as one continues to read. Franklin gave memorable quotes that served as concise examples to enable the reader to understand the content. For example, quotes "O powerful Goodness! Bountiful Father! Merciful Guide! Increase in me that wisdom which discovers my truest interest. Strengthen my resolutions to perform what that wisdom dictates. Accept my kind offices to thy other children as the only return in my power for thy continual favors to me” to describe his prayer and bring out his belief in God. The book also has illustrations that enable the reader to get a clear image of what Benjamin Franklin was talking about. The illustrations included paintings, puns and a statistical graph.
The content of the book is also very relevant and Franklin achieved his objectives of writing the book- inspiring and making a difference in the reader’s life. I am personally challenged to witness the rise to greatness, of someone who faced all those challenges and lived in a time where there were fewer resources than there are now. Franklin brought out the image that everything was possible if only one believed just as he did believe in himself and stood on his own principles. He also portrayed the image of doing a variety of things all at the same time and making great and successful progress in all of them if only you put all that is required into place.
However, the book lacks basic elements of time, and the reader is left wondering when a certain event mentioned happened. For example, when Franklin claimed he had an argument with his earlier brother and decided that he could no longer work with, or for him, he did not say when he left for Philadelphia. The book simply stated that Franklin managed to go on a voyage at sea and traveled and did not describe the sequence of the time between quitting the job and traveling. The book also lacks the definitions of some certain native-language-words used and the reader is left to figure them out on their own. For example, the words “encourag’d” to mean “encouraged” and “amus’d” to mean “amused”. Despite all these shortcomings, the book is still perfect and understandable.
I would recommend this book to anyone since it is relevant to the daily lives of people in any caliber. From leaders to businessmen, to scholars, to diplomats and also the core family unit. The book inspires leaders by giving them integrity and leadership skills that will enable them to lead their areas of jurisdiction to the best of their abilities, and attain maximum benefit, for the good of the people. The book will also inspire scientists to take up the responsibility of changing the world by innovations and inventions, especially at this time that technological levels are advanced and the resources get better and more than they were at his time. The book would inspire scholars by making them believe that they can succeed in their scholarly work and end up to become great professionals, despite the many challenges that they may have faced before. The book would also inspire the family to maintain the family unit of father, mother, and child, and also have good relations among them, and avoid instances of conflict, like that of Franklin and his elder brother.
This book has a lot of lessons on life, and personally, I have learned quite a number of them. Firstly, it is essential to know oneself and understand your dreams, likes, aspirations and what you want to be in the future. Benjamin at first had no destination, and would fall for anything and, thus, came up with the famous quote “If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything”. Another great lesson is time management. Benjamin did not waste even a single minute of his life doing things that did not add value to his life. That way, all his actions at the end of the day added up to a valuable future and as he quotes, “ at the end of each day, I would lie down before I close my eyes and wonder whether that day had reduced the distance between me and success.”. Thirdly, it is having the desire to learn and the great drive to achieve success. This craving is indistinguishable and one takes every chance available to add value to their life.
I also learned the ideals of surviving in society are making new friends, and sharing with them. This way, you will have somewhere to run to in times of need, and once you do good to people, they will be indebted to do good to you too. Also, people exchange ideas and come up with successful business structures that grow with time. However, one needs to be cautious since not everyone has good interests, and could double-cross you. Another great lesson learned is the ability to face problems head-on and not panicking or asking questions. Benjamin believed that every challenge was a measure of his limit to give up, and took it positively. For example, when his brother was jailed for having printed some malicious work and he had to take over the reins at the publishing house. He quoted, “I believe I will do it, no matter what.” How we think about a problem determines how it is going to end- solved, or unsolved.
The document above is related to history in that, the happenings of the book took place more than two centuries ago. However, the book is relevant in this generation since we depend on that history in our day to day lives. For instance, inventions by Benjamin Franklin are still being used to date and some are being used to improve or modify modern forms of technology. The political arena has been described in a different light and if compared to now, there are some lessons we can learn from it but not any different from today's’ politics. In short, Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography is a book that can be read by a person of any age, profession, origin or gender as it is applicable to every human being. The flow of events is organized and, thus, buys a lot of credit and the content is magical as it serves the required purpose.
Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography is a great source of knowledge to the youth, and a bank of knowledge, the youth find that they can identify with Franklin since he has undergone the same or more of the challenges that they are facing. Despite this, he went on and became a successful man in multiple fields which is very remarkable considering that he had earlier failed dozens of times.
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