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Shortly before his death, Franklin wrote his son, William, “nothing has ever hurt me so much…as to find myself deserted in my old age by my only son; and not only deserted, but to find him taking up arms against me, in a cause wherein my good name, fortune, and life were all at stake.”
Ben Franklin kept his private life very private. It is only recently information about his personal life has been coming out. He married in his twenties and also fathered an illegitimate son, William, whom he adopted. They enjoyed many years together working on scientific and diplomatic matters. By 1776, William was the Royal Governor of New Jersey. William stayed loyal to England during the Revolutionary War. He was captured and imprisoned during the war, while Ben lived in luxury in Paris.
The book is well written and impeccably researched. Epstein drew on unpublished correspondence as well as published works. Epstein illustrated the public issues that drove the father and son apart. Epstein stayed neutral and maintained a balance but not uncritical of either man. The book reads more like a novel than a history book. This is a dual biography of the father and son. I am sure that this problem of divided loyalties played out in many families during the revolution.
Daniel Epstein is a well-known biographer. I particularly enjoyed his biography on Abraham Lincoln. I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book was sixteen and a half hours long. Scott Brick does a great job narrating the book. Brick is an actor and a multi-award-winning audiobook narrator.
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