Books: Great Man

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN—Carl Van Doren−Viking ($3.75).

Americans may think of Washington freezing at Valley Forge, of Patrick Henry demanding liberty or death, but they never catch Benjamin Franklin in such heroic poses. Instead, the old Philadelphian goes beaming and nodding through history, saying chuckling things to pretty girls, advising young men to save their money and get up early in the morning. Whether he is denouncing the King, flying his kites or delivering himself of his flawless platitudes, he is self-confident, unselfconscious, comfortable, good-natured insatiably curious.

But only Franklin himself, of all the people...

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