“From the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian comes a masterful, first-of-its-kind dual biography of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington, illuminating their partnership’s enduring importance.” Franklin & Washington: The Founding Partnership was published in February 2020.
Do we really need another book on the founding fathers? In my world, yes, as I enjoy reading about colonial history quite a bit. This “dual biography” is really two parallel biographies, because the links between Washington and Franklin are few.
The men were vastly different: one an abolitionist self-made man, a printer and inventor and sound businessman, the other, a slave-holding plantation owner who was also a sometimes soldier. But it is their similarities that brings this book together.
There’s a chapter on the early years of both men, bringing them up to the French and Indian War and their roles in it. Then there’s a chapter on how the Revolutionary War came to pass. The stories show how both men rose to power in their various spheres. There’s a lot of time spent with Franklin and Washington not knowing or being in contact with each other.
But the author’s theory that Franklin & Washington were essential for the creation of the United States is a sound one; Franklin’s diplomacy, as well as his business interests in the printing industry, helped with the founding of our nation as much as Washington’s ability as a general to defeat the strongest army in the world.
I’ve already read extensive biographies of both Benjamin Franklin (my favorite, An American Life, can be found here) and George Washington (Ron Chernow’s is the best IMO), and I can’t say that this biography adds much to the mix, beyond pointing out that these two men were very important to the colony’s cause for independence, and subsequent set-up of our government. I’d give it three stars out of five.
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