Benjamin Franklin: An American Life Book Review

Pages: 4 (1403 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: American History

Failure does not necessarily mean a negative long-term consequence. The negative consequence occurs in the short-term but the positive effects of the quick lesson occur in the long-term.

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Another concept offered by Sims (2011, p. 77) is that "problems are the new solutions." To the individual, this means that any problem that arises carries with it the challenge of finding its solution. This recognition, although apparently simple, is at the heart of creative thinking and basic problem solving. Throughout his life, his science, his inventions, and his presidency, this is something that Franklin clearly implemented in everything he did. Some evidence of this includes the many civic improvements he made during his term as president. Some of these included a public library, a volunteer fire corps, and an insurance association. It is clear to see, form these, how Franklin was oriented towards finding solutions. The inability of the general population to afford books, for example, resulted in his establishment of a lending library. This brought knowledge and information to people who would otherwise not have access to these, all because Franklin understood that the problem had a solution. The volunteer fire corps, also in response to a problem Franklin observed, functioned as a supplement to the existing police and fire corps. This mitigated severe shortages and helped people who would otherwise have lost everything, possibly including their lives, to retain at least some of their belongings. As for insurance, we are so used to this in our lives today that it is difficult to imagine a time when this was ever not available. In this case, Franklin helped those who did lose their valuable possessions by accident or theft to retrieve what they have lost without having to pay a lump sum of expenses to regain their lost goods. Here also, each reader has a large amount to learn from Franklin. Being solution oriented helps the individual to overcome negativity in reaction to a problem and to engage in productive thinking instead.

Book Review on Benjamin Franklin: An American Life Assignment

Gawande (2012, p. 4) goes further by identifying solutions as potential problems of their own. When a solution as been implemented, it is possible that all the individual's expectations associated with the positive effects of the solution are proved wrong. Gawande uses an interesting medical case as example. According to all expectations, an aged woman was suffering form post-operative constipation. When she did not heal, only one intern looked further than the obvious and identified a far more serious and potentially fatal problem. In this way, the team was able to save the woman and help her return to a full, active, and productive life. This only occurred because the intern recognized that the team's expectations were not coming into being. The same is true of Benjamin Franklin. With the experiments he did and inventions he created, he was obliged to recognize his failures and learn from them. The episode with the whistle in his young years did set the stage for this effectively. The premise of Gawande's work is that failure is not a disaster or even necessarily negative, as long as it is followed by rescue. This is a recognition that Benjamin Franklin has carried with him throughout his life, and particularly in his scientific and political endeavors. This is also the premise upon which he based his continual self-invention.

Finally, the video be Seelig suggests that the creative mind should challenge assumptions. Franklin did this particularly with his relationship with his fellow human beings, and especially when applying his religious views to these relationships. Many of the religious assumptions during Franklin's time focused on a vengeful, angry, and punishing God, or at least a religiously rigid one. Franklin was far more concerned with manifesting the love of God for humanity, showing this in his concern with making social and economic improvements.


Gawande, A. (2012, Jun. 4). Failure and Rescue

Isaacson, W. (2003) Benjamin Franklin: An American Life. New York: Simon & Schuster

Michalko, M. (2001). Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius. New York: Ten Speed Press.

Seelig, T. A crash course in creativity. Retrieved from:

Sims, P. (2011). Little Bets:… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life" Book Review in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life.  (2013, October 15).  Retrieved May 29, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Benjamin Franklin: An American Life."  15 October 2013.  Web.  29 May 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Benjamin Franklin: An American Life."  October 15, 2013.  Accessed May 29, 2020.