The full title of this work by William M. (Makepeace) Thayer reads "From Boyhood to Manhood: Life of Benjamin Franklin", and - you guessed it - it was yet another free ebook I found on Amazon's Kindle shop.
The author lived from 1820 to 1898 and wrote the book long after its hero died. There is, of course, a lot about Franklin to be found on the internet; wikipedia is maybe the first stop if you want to know the basic facts about the man - or brush up on what you remember about him.
He lived from 1706 to 1790 and was - quoting wikipedia - "one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass 'armonica'. He facilitated many civic organizations, including a fire department and a university."
Thayer's book makes mention of almost all of this, but its focus is on Franklin's childhood and youth, which was spent mainly in Boston and Philadelphia.
According to the book, he was a highly intelligent child, an eager learner, and although he had the chance of only two years of proper schooling due to his parents' precarious financial situation, he took to reading and writing like a fish to water. A lot of his time was spent studying a variety of subjects; he must have used every waking minute (and sacrificed many an hour of sleep) on that. In a rather glorifying manner (and maybe a bit unrealistically), the author claims that young Benjamin excelled at anything he undertook, be it swimming, or printing, or learning a foreign language.
After a short stint at learning the trade of candle-making, which he hated, Benjamin became a printer, being apprenticed with his older brother at the age of 12. Circumstances put him in charge of the entire business of printing and editing a weekly paper as well as writing articles for it at the age of 15 or 16.
As lucky (and industrious) he was in terms of career and business, as unlucky was his choice of friends. Twice he was severely disappointed by close friends, causing him to lose a considerable amount of money.
He fell in love with and finally was allowed to get engaged and later married to Deborah Read.
How he became a statesman and arrived at all the other achievements mentioned above is described well in the book, but I hesitate to really recommend it. To me, it made a welcome change after several novels (more or less shallow ones, as you know from my previous posts). But I felt my patience tested quite a lot with this book: Thayer has a way of telling his readers about some event or other that occurs in his subject's lives, and a few pages on, a detailed account of the event or development is repeated in conversation between the main character and another person.
That can get quite annoying, and I must confess that I did go very quickly over some pages.
Still, it was interesting to learn a lot more about Franklin, his life and times than what I had known up to then. Also, I learned a lot about what business - especially the printing business - was like back then.
So, not a waste of time, just... quite a bit longer than necessary.