The dramatic story of a founding father, his illegitimate son, and the tragedy of their conflict during the American Revolution—from the acclaimed author of The Lincolns.
Ben Franklin is the most lovable of America’s founding fathers. His wit, his charm, his inventiveness—even his grandfatherly appearance—are legendary. But this image obscures the scandals that dogged him throughout his life. In The Loyal Son, award-winning historian Daniel Mark Epstein throws the spotlight on one of the more enigmatic aspects of Franklin’s biography: his complex and confounding relationship with his illegitimate son William.
When he was twenty-four, Franklin fathered a child with a woman who was not his wife. He adopted the boy, raised him, and educated him to be his aide. Ben and William became inseparable. After the famous kite-in-a-thunderstorm experiment, it was William who proved that the electrical charge in a lightning bolt travels from the ground up, not from the clouds down. On a diplomatic mission to London, it was William who charmed London society. He was invited to walk in the procession of the coronation of George III; Ben was not.
The outbreak of the American Revolution caused a devastating split between father and son. By then, William was royal governor of New Jersey, while Ben was one of the foremost champions of American independence. In 1776, the Continental Congress imprisoned William for treason. George Washington made efforts to win William’s release, while his father, to the world’s astonishment, appeared to have abandoned him to his fate.
A fresh take on the combustible politics of the age of independence, The Loyal Son is a gripping account of how the agony of the American Revolution devastated one of America’s most distinguished families. Like Nathaniel Philbrick and David McCullough, Epstein is a storyteller first and foremost, a historian who weaves together fascinating incidents discovered in long-neglected documents to draw us into the private world of the men and women who made America.
“The history of loyalist William Franklin and his famous father has been told before but not as fully or as well as it is by Daniel Mark Epstein in The Loyal Son. Mr. Epstein, a biographer and poet, has done a lot of fresh research and invests his narrative with literary grace and judicious sympathy for both father and son.”—The Wall Street Journal
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Daniel Mark Epstein is the author of biographies of Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman, Aimee Semple McPherson, Nat King Cole, and Edna St. Vincent Millay, as well as nine volumes of poetry. His verse has appeared in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The Paris Review, among other publications. The American Academy of Arts and Letters awarded Epstein the Rome Prize in 1977 and an Arts and Letters Award in 2006. Daniel Mark Epstein lives in Baltimore.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Epstein The Loyal Son The Loyal Son tells a story that has been heard many times, but this time with a fresh angle by focusing on the relationship between Benjamin Franklin and his son, William. William was the Royal governor of New Jersey at the time of the Revolution and stayed loyal to the king once the Revolution started. This book treats both men sympathetically, though, he provides an honest evaluation of their strengths and their weaknesses. Perhaps the real strength of this book is to remind the reader that the Revolutionary War was just as much of a war of “brother against brother” as the Civil War was 100 years later. However, unlike the Civil War, the Revolutionary War could really be neighbor against neighbor and the harshness of that reality is brought forth with this narrative. I found the writing engaging and flowed smoothly. A person with average knowledge of American history will be able to find much benefit within this book.
This book is dynamite. I received it direct from the Publisher in about a 6-6 1/2 week time frame, but was so rewarded to read. It highlights some things about Benjamin's personal life regarding other women not always reflected in such and honest fact. He also gives quite a concise picture of Benjamin's son Williams strength of character and obstinate political stances. The authors research has laid out a simple but fascinating chronological time frame in these lives of these families . If you are interested in the strife and turmoil in the atmosphere of the U.S. just prior to the American Revolution this is the perfect portrayal of how homes can be divided by political beliefs and convictions.