Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Franklin Biographer to Speak; Walter Isaacson Visiting Ponte Vedra

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Franklin Biographer to Speak; Walter Isaacson Visiting Ponte Vedra

Article excerpt

Byline: Maggie FitzRoy, Shorelines staff writer

PONTE VEDRA BEACH -- Author Walter Isaacson believes that Benjamin Franklin, one of America's best loved founding fathers, has much to teach us today. It's Isaacson's contention that although Franklin lived more than two centuries ago, the ideas that he spoke and wrote about are still relevant.

Isaacson, author of the best-selling biography Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, will talk about those ideas and the life and times of Franklin at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10 at the Marriott at Sawgrass Resort. The program featuring Isaacson is part of an annual outstanding author series sponsored by Friends of the Library-Ponte Vedra Beach.

Isaacson, who is chief executive officer of the Aspen Institute, is a former chairman of CNN and a former managing editor of Time magazine.

In a recent phone interview, Isaacson spoke about why he chose to write a book about Franklin and what he will talk about when he visits the Beaches.

"I picked Franklin because I think right now we need to look back at the founding values of our country," he said. "Rise above partisanship, be less bitter when it comes to important matters that have to be solved."

Of all the founding fathers, Franklin is the most contemporary, Isaacson said. From across the centuries, "he's the founding father that winks at us."

Franklin, who was born in Boston in 1706, spent much of his 84 years in Philadelphia, England and France. He was a scientist, inventor, diplomat, writer, businessman and influential political thinker. He is known for flying a kite that proved lightning was electricity, and for many inventions, including bifocal glasses, clean-burning stoves, lending libraries and the volunteer fire corps.

In politics, Franklin devised plans for uniting the colonies and a federal model for a national government.

Isaacson said he will speak about Franklin's life and why it was so interesting.

Members of the Friends of the Library chose Isaacson as this year's speaker in part because it is a presidential election year, said Mary Davis, Friends vice president and program chairwoman.

Last year, they featured fiction writer Anita Shreve; this year, they wanted to feature a non-fiction historical book. …

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