The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

In one sentence – Learn from the perfect polymath – author, entrepreneur, politician, inventor, scientist, diplomat, activist, statesman, printer, and many more!

Author – Benjamin Franklin

Genre – Autobiography, History

Best quote from the book –  “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged.”

autobiography of benjamin franklin
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Topics we’ll be discussing:

Summary 

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is an interesting autobiography about an interesting person. 

Born 1706 in Boston, Franklin had a disastrous early life. After dropping out of school at an early age, he worked at his brother’s business. They fought a lot, which prompted Franklin to quit that job. After not getting much support from his family, he went to Philadelphia for work. Slowly, he made great strides for success as more and more people begin to recognize his work. His major inventions included the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove. Later on, he worked as a diplomat during the war between England and France, where he contributed in writing successful proposals and negotiating.

Despite Franklin having achieved so much, this book has failed to mention some of them. Franklin achieved so much that he might have forgotten a few of his own achievements!

“A man being sometimes more generous when he has but a little money than when he has plenty, perhaps thro’ fear of being thought to have but little.”

Benjamin Franklin

Key takeaways

1. Master of all

“Jack of all trades, master of none”

Viktor Vicsek

Most of us are either jack of all trades or master of all, aren’t we? But not Benjamin Franklin. It would take a long time to discuss his contributions in all the fields he entered into. So let’s not do that…

One question kept coming in my mind while reading this book, “How can one person achieve so much during his lifetime?” His achievements could be divided among ten different people and yet all these individual people would still be great achievers. 

One of the main reasons he was able to achieve so much was his habits. He was a very disciplined person, having a specific daily routine to follow. He was then able to use his time and energy in more important fields. 

ben franklin routine
Daily Routine of Ben Franklin

Another key reason for his success was his social skills. As a diplomatic person, he tried to form as many positive relationships as possible. He had the skill to use the right words at the right time. He was also a great public speaker, which made the public support his ideas wholeheartedly. 

Get this best selling book! (Currently available in India only)Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

2. Planning is everything

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was a productivity freak. He liked to get everything pre-scheduled so he won’t have to bother about it later. Every night, he questioned himself on whether his day went as per his plans, or otherwise. If it did, then that’s great! If not, why not? This helped him know himself better.

After waking up as well, he questioned himself, “What good shall I do this day?” By asking himself this simple question, he was able to focus on only the most crucial aspects.

Franklin used to use time blocks to plan his time. Every day, he used to engage in deep work for about 8 hours – 8 AM to 12 PM and 2 PM to 6 PM.

From 12 PM to 2 PM, he used to manage his shallow work, such as read and check his accounts (not his social media accounts, obviously). 

He had already been following the principles of a very popular modern-day book, Deep Work.

With so much pre-planning daily, he was able to form it as his habit. Hence, he was able to gain the advantages of the compound effect – doing small tasks daily will impact a lot in the long run.

“So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do”

Benjamin Franklin

3. Difficult to understand the book

I had to include this one. This book was one of the most difficult books I have ever read, even more than the Intelligent Investor. As Franklin was from a time over two centuries ago, the English used in the book was extremely hard to grasp at the time. 

Moreover, the book has not been specified chapter wise, which made it hard for me to take breaks in between.

Literally speaking, it was like reading one of Shakespeare’s dramas! Most of the sentences were in the passive voice. They were also bulky ones, which made me feel I was reading the entire paragraph at once. 

Let’s see a few illustrations from the book itself: 

“It happened that they wrought an Effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them: For the Arguments of the Deists which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much Stronger than the Refutations.”

“Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it, perhaps, often in this history; for, even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.”

Did you get these sentences the first time you read it? Neither did I! But in case you managed to do so, then I’m sure Franklin would be proud to hear that.

Recommendation 

I had started this book with so many expectations. And I’m glad most of them got fulfilled. It was intriguing to know how Benjamin Franklin became what he is now known to in this world. It was well worth my time and I will give it a try for the second time soon.

You will find the book challenging due to the language used. If you are up to it, then you will be able to learn the wisdom from one of the most successful people ever lived.

So get you book right here! – The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Other reviews of this book

Get this best selling book! (Currently available in India only)Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Check our Review on How To Stop Worrying And Start Living.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Hamish

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this book. And kudos to you for making it all the way through. In still working on blocking my time out the night before to make the best use of it, and checking in with myself and what I did for the day before I go to bed. Thank you for the reminders to keep doing these things. 😊

    1. Kiran Kandel

      Your words are absolutely encouraging and is inspiring me further to keep up my writings and sharing of experience.
      I am thankful to the book as it had lead me to be productive and learn a lot. Yeah, keep up with your good work, friend.

      Thank you for leaving your wonderful comment. 😀

  2. John Ajayi

    Brilliant review. And yes, I got the statements at first-read.
    Though a revised edition will be great.

    I haven’t read the biography, but I think a factor that helped him was that he had businesses bringing him money without his physical presence. This gave him the much needed time to pursue his interests.

    1. Kiran Kandel

      Thank you for your warm comment!

      Yes, it is one of the reason he was able to pursue his dreams even though he was also one of successful business person.

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