“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 Affection
Stealing 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.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of Science Fiction eBook: Stealing God's Thunder|
|Release Date: 08-02-2005|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||Stealing God's Thunder|
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Stealing God's Thunder
WITH A POX TO YOU”
Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston on January 17, 1706, the fifteenth of the seventeen children of Josiah Franklin, and the eighth child of his father’s second wife, Abiah Folger. The Franklins lived on Milk Street, across from the South Church, where Josiah was a leading member of the congregation. Ben was carried across the street and baptized there on the day of his birth. The Franklins ran a soap- and candle-making business, and Josiah was also active in the community; he had served as a constable of the town watch and also in the public markets, neighbors sometimes came to him for advice, and the son would recall that his father’s “great Excellence lay in a sound Understanding and solid Judgment in prudential Matters, both in private and publick Affairs.”
While still a toddler, Ben struck his parents as having the bearing of a scholar. “I do not remember when I could not read,” Franklin later said. An uncle (also named Benjamin) who resided with the Franklins and took a special interest in his namesake perceived something remarkable about his clever nephew, and wrote of the boy, “If the Buds are so precious what may we expect when the fruit is ripe?” Josiah prided himself that his youngest son might possess the makings of a clergyman, although Ben’s unsuitability for the role manifested itself early on in ways large and small, such as when he suggested to his father that if all the meat being salted for the family’s winter provisions was blessed at once, the family might avoid having to say grace