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eBook Stealing God's Thunder: Benjamin Franklin's Lightning Rod and the Invention of America download

by Philip Dray

eBook Stealing God's Thunder: Benjamin Franklin's Lightning Rod and the Invention of America download ISBN: 140006032X
Author: Philip Dray
Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (August 2, 2005)
Language: English
Pages: 304
ePub: 1684 kb
Fb2: 1580 kb
Rating: 4.9
Other formats: rtf lrf mobi doc
Category: Biography
Subcategory: Leaders and Notable People

In Stealing God’s Thunder, the story of Benjamin Franklin’s invention of the lightening rod and the resulting .

In Stealing God’s Thunder, the story of Benjamin Franklin’s invention of the lightening rod and the resulting consequences, that sense of wonder and excitement and even fear comes beautifully to life. Philip Dray does a remarkable job of illuminating the ever-fascinating Franklin and, more than that, the way that he, and his invention, helped create the new scientific world

Stealing God's Thunder" details the history of Benjamin Franklin's invention of the lightning rod, and goes . Remember, Franklin's rod was published in 1753 and the United States Constitution was not ratified until 1789 and the first federal patent law was not enacted until 1790.

Stealing God's Thunder" details the history of Benjamin Franklin's invention of the lightning rod, and goes on to sketch Ben's role in the invention of the United States' system of government. In a few places, the book touches on subjects which are of particular interest to the intellectual property professional.

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In Stealing God's Thunder, the story of Benjamin Franklin's invention of the lightening rod and the resulting consequences, that sense of wonder and excitement and even fear comes beautifully to life. Philip Dray does a remarkable job of illuminating the ever-fascinating Franklin and, more than that, the way that he, and his invention, helped create the new scientific world

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A biography of Benjamin Franklin viewed through the lens of his scientific inquiry and its . Online version: Dray, Philip. Stealing God's thunder.

A biography of Benjamin Franklin viewed through the lens of his scientific inquiry and its ramifications for American democracy. Today we think of Franklin as a founder of American independence who.

Philip Dray talked about his book Stealing God’s Thunder: Benjamin Franklin’s Lightning Rod and the Invention of America, published by Random House. Mr. Dray used slides to accompany his talk as he expounded on the life of one of America’s Founding Fathers and the period in which he lived. The discussion focused primarily on Ben Franklin’s invention of the lightning rod and his revelation of the mysterious workings of lightning and thunder - studies that made him one of the foremost scientists of his day.

Stealing God's Thunder : Benjamin Franklin's Lightning Rod and the Invention of America. A Pulitzer Prize finalist uses the story of Ben Franklin's science and his curiousity as a metaphor for America's struggle for democracy, and recounts how Franklin unlocked one of the greatest natural mysteries of his day. High school & older.

Award-winning author Philip Dray delves into the lesser-known side of an American icon in Stealing God’s Thunder. But in a time when everything was blamed on sin, it was the lightning rod-Franklin’s attempt to control the heavens-that caused the greatest controversy. Benjamin Franklin, more often viewed as a statesman and founding father than as a man of science, challenged religion, science, and reason with his inventions. People Who Liked Stealing God's Thunder: Benjamin Franklin's Lightning Rod and the Invention of America Also Liked These Free Titles: America in the King Years 1965-68 by Taylor Branch.

“We forget, living in this era of heavily patented research and closely guarded results, how wonderfully exciting the scientific world used to be. In Stealing God’s Thunder, the story of Benjamin Franklin’s invention of the lightening rod and the resulting consequences, that sense of wonder and excitement and even fear comes beautifully to life. Philip Dray does a remarkable job of illuminating the ever-fascinating Franklin and, more than that, the way that he, and his invention, helped create the new scientific world.”–Deborah Blum, author of Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of AffectionStealing God’s Thunder is a concise, richly detailed biography of Benjamin Franklin viewed through the lens of his scientific inquiry and its ramifications for American democracy. Today we think of Benjamin Franklin as a founder of American independence who also dabbled in science. But in Franklin’s day it was otherwise. Long before he was an eminent statesman, he was famous for his revolutionary scientific work, especially his experiments with lightning and electricity.Pulitzer Prize finalist Philip Dray uses the evolution of Franklin’s scientific curiosity and empirical thinking as a metaphor for America’s struggle to establish its fundamental values. Set against the backdrop of the Enlightenment and America’s pursuit of political equality for all, Stealing God’s Thunder recounts how Franklin unlocked one of the greatest natural mysteries of his day, the seemingly unknowable powers of electricity and lightning. Rich in historic detail and based on numerous primary sources, Stealing God’s Thunder is a fascinating original look at one of our most beloved and complex founding fathers.
Comments: (7)
Dibei
I have read several books on Franklin, and so even with much knowledge going into reading this one I found the work to be thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.

The author does a good job of giving a basic biographical background while staying on the central theme of the discoveries in electricity. Though there is an underlying, subtle premise which seeks to discount the importance of religion, I found the tone to be more or less free of arrogance and presumption, which is rare for a biography, considering the strong desire of biographers to want to distinguish themselves from others walking the same path.

What was particularly delightful to me was the history given of franklin's time in France, long after his discovery of the lightning rod. The man truly did seem to know everyone important of the time. He was like a Forrest Gump who himself was a tremendously influential man. Many thanks to author; this was a book I didn't want to put down. It had good technical details, but not enough to make you bored. Really felt like I was taken back in time.
Malakelv
Great book, and particularly important for a scientist or anyone interested in American history. I read it not long after it was published and just bought another copy for my college student grandson. Thought I knew all about Franklin, but this gave me a far better idea of his place as a scientist. Also led me to read most of his writings. The importance of the invention of the lightning rod is seldom explained, so I was fascinated by that. Highly enjoyable writing style besides.
Gtonydne
From The Washington Post book review, [...]

Reviewed by H.W. Brands
Sunday, August 7, 2005; BW03

The concept of degeneration in American political history is so broadly accepted as to be almost unchallengeable. In the days of the Founding, giants walked the earth; Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison and the others seized independence from Britain and placed the new nation on its republican path. Since then it's all been downhill; no subsequent generation, and certainly not ours, could have accomplished what those demigods wrought.

This conclusion is correct, but the cause typically adduced is wrong. What separates us from the Founders is not a talent gap but a temperament gap; what we lack is not intellectual power but collective confidence. Philip Dray's succinct recounting of the role of science in Franklin's life and thought affords a useful reminder of how thoroughly America's republican experiment was a product of the mindset of the Enlightenment: a belief that all things are possible to self-confident human reason.

Dray, the author of the prize-winning At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America, points out that while later generations looked on Franklin as a statesman and diplomat who dabbled in science, his own generation deemed him a scientist who moonlighted in politics. Dray covers all the high points of Franklin's scientific career: his apprenticeship as a journalist during a violent debate over inoculation for smallpox (literally violent: Cotton Mather escaped death when a homemade bomb tossed by an opponent in the debate failed to explode); his observations of the Gulf Stream and other marine and atmospheric currents (which finally convinced stubborn British sea captains to heed the advice American whalers had been giving them for decades); his prescient studies of demography (which forecast with uncanny accuracy the growth of the American population); and, of course, his investigations into electricity (which won him world fame and might have brought him a fortune had he not eschewed a patent on the lightning rod). Dray relates these parts of the Franklin story with energy and economy. His treatment of the electrical investigations, especially of the development of the lightning rod, is the fullest currently available. Other authors have noted the skepticism that naturally greeted the concept of the lightning rod -- who of sound mind would want to crown his house with something that seemed to attract lightning? -- but none has pursued the battle over lightning rod design -- one point or several? sharp or blunt? -- with such thoroughness.

Dray devotes less attention to the subject of the second half of his subtitle: the "invention of America." He walks Franklin through the seminal political events of the Revolutionary era -- the Declaration of Independence, which Franklin helped draft; the Revolutionary War, which Franklin helped win by his diplomacy in France; the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which Franklin helped guide to its successful conclusion. But Dray's real interest lies elsewhere, and his preference shows.

Yet what he does say about the intersection of Franklin's science and politics is, if not original, timely. Dray makes clear that Franklin brought to his political work the same rationalism that informed his science. Franklin wasn't irreligious; he believed in a Creator who paid some attention to what His creatures were up to. But he had no patience with theology; he considered sectarianism a blight and judged reason the appropriate measure of faith rather than vice versa. His parents, solid Puritans, lamented his lapse from orthodoxy; he responded with his own statement of faith: "At the last Day, we shall not be examined [by] what we thought but what we did; and our recommendation will not be that we said Lord, Lord , but that we did GOOD to our Fellow Creatures." One of Franklin's revisions to Jefferson's draft Declaration replaced "sacred and undeniable," in reference to the truths the Americans were defending, with "self-evident." The difference was crucial: "sacred" summoned the authority of God, "self-evident" the authority of human reason.

At a critical moment of the Constitutional Convention, Franklin uncharacteristically -- or so it seemed to most of those present -- moved that each morning's session begin with a prayer to the Almighty for guidance. Dray reads this as suggesting an eleventh-hour reversion to Franklin's parents' belief in divine intervention; more likely Franklin simply wished to remind his opinionated colleagues that they didn't have all the answers. Significantly, the convention rejected the motion; Alexander Hamilton reportedly declared that this was no time to seek "foreign aid." Franklin would no more have looked to Heaven for political guidance than he would have consulted the Bible in fashioning his lightning rod. God gave man reason, he believed, and expected man to use it. Franklin did so with confidence, as did his colleagues.

That was their genius, and it's what separates Franklin's generation from ours. Religion hasn't driven reason from the public square, but it has gained political leverage it never enjoyed in the days of the Founding. Biblical literalism (currently cloaked as "intelligent design") has fought the science of evolution to a standstill in many schools. The very idea of the Enlightenment evokes derisive sneers. Orthodoxy of some Judeo-Christian sort has become a de facto requirement for American elective office; deists in the mold of Franklin, Washington, and Jefferson need not apply. Franklin's partners weren't all as scientifically minded as Dray reveals Franklin to be, but they all believed that reason was a surer guide to political progress than religion. And in this belief they accomplished the great things they did.

As Franklin left the Constitutional Convention in September 1787, he was asked what he and his colleagues had produced. "A republic," he replied, "if you can keep it." We've kept it, after our fashion. But we couldn't reproduce it. Franklin would be disappointed.

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H.W. Brands is the author of "The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin." His biography of Andrew Jackson will be published in October.
hardy
Benjamin Franklin is such an interesting hero. This book describes the many aspects of his genius mind.
Thordigda
We read this for book club , although I read a few books about Benjamin Franklin this one concentrated on his scientific pursuits . The discussion on the book was lively , everyone in the book club enjoyed the book even members who didn't want to read another Ben Franklin book.
Brariel
Great!
Mopimicr
How backward we Americans used to think. What a surprising story