The Loyal Son: The War in Ben Franklin’s House

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For reasons of nostalgia and self-delusion, we tend to idolize the Founding Fathers, ranking them by a mythological morality. And placing somewhere near the top is the esteemed Benjamin Franklin, who holds a prominent place in history. Epstein pulls the bed sheets back to expose the Franklin family dysfunction in a way that allows us an intimate view of the Revolutionary War and its irrevocable breach between father and son, the Royal Governor of New Jersey, William Franklin. “…Benjamin had been forced, against his nature, to break off all communication with his son. The risk William posed to the whole family–not to mention the cause of American Independence–was too great for him to consider any other policy.”

Poignantly written, Epstein brings out the conflicting emotions between three generations of Franklins through a variety of witnesses on both sides of the Atlantic. In particular, the reader may find most gripping the account of Governor Franklin isolated in a squalid jail cell, accused of treason, as his famous father appears indifferent while negotiating an alliance in France. However, through it all, the Franklin women bear the worst of the circumstances. Their plight, in these pages, elevates them from what might otherwise be merely a footnote in history. Epstein’s exploration brings out novel discoveries to old mysteries such as L’Affaire d’Asgill which distinguishes him as a historian and author.


Reviewed By:

Author Daniel Mark Epstein
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 464 pages
Publisher Ballantine Books
Publish Date 2017-May-30
ISBN 9780345544216
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue August 2017
Category History
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