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I am about half way through and probably will not finish. After recently reading books by McCullough, Toland, Manchester, Chernow & D'Estes , I find Isaacson's style laborious...almost dull. There are numerous instances, where the author goes into great detail on material which could have been covered in less than a page. Simply put, one of less interesting biographies I've read in a long time.
A biography of Franklin ought to be full of life, virtually impossible to put down. Here is a man who lived life to the full, had wit and charm, not to mention a pretty sharp sense of humour - and Isaacson provides us with an account that has all the verve of a high school history report. One of the difficulties with biography is that you already know most of the plot, and you probably know how it ends too. To create a sense of suspense and excitement, you need to need to do two things. First, you need to construct a "plot" that is more than just a chain of events - you need to turn this life into some kind of story. Second, you need to add enough originality and insight to give the reader something they hadn't thought of before - a new twist on a familiar tale. Isaacson does neither. He follows Franklin from cradle to grave, covering his life with reasonable thoroughness, some attention to alternative sources and points of view, and with excellent command of English grammar and vocabulary. For this he is to be commended - his experience as a successful journalist shows. However, he has not managed to create anything that pulls the reader a long - neither the "what next" plot nor the "what will he tell me next" insights. If anyone wants to read a diametrically opposite biographical effort, try "My Brain is Open: The Mathematical Journeys of Paul Erdos" by Bruce Schechter. This is a biography of a mathemetician - exactly the sort of book you'd expect to be irredeemably dull. Far from it - it's the kind you can't put down. That is exactly what Franklin deserved, and Isaacson has let him (and us) down.