Ten years in the making, the new book from Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon S. Wood reveals Benjamin Franklin's life and meaning. Why did Benjamin Franklin retire from business and become gentleman? Why did he admire the British Empire--and join the American Revolution? Why did he being writing his "Autobiography" when he did? And how did the "first American" become an American in the first place? Renowned historian Gordon S. Wood spent ten years studying a legend. In this untraditional biography, he penetrates beneath 200 years' accumulation of images and representations to find the historical Franklin. He places his subject's amazing life in its 18th century context an shatters forever the comforting stereotypes: homespun patriot, cracker-barrel philosopher, folksy founder, genial self-improver. Groundbreaking and riveting, this book is a must for anyone interested in American history and the roots of American character.