A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of

A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America ❰Epub❯ ➝ A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America Author Stacy Schiff – Thomashillier.co.uk In this dazzling work of history, a Pulitzer Prize winning author follows Benjamin Franklin to France for the crowning achievement of his career In December of a small boat delivered an old man to Fr In this dazzling work of Improvisation: Franklin, ePUB ☆ history, a Pulitzer Prize winning author follows Benjamin Franklin to France for the crowning achievement of his career In December ofa small boat delivered an old man A Great PDF/EPUB or to France So begins an enthralling narrative account of how Benjamin Franklin seventy years old, without any diplomatic training, and possessed of the most rudimentary French convinced France, an absolute monarchy, to underwrite Great Improvisation: Franklin, PDF ´ America s experiment in democracy When Franklin stepped onto French soil, he well understood he was embarking on the greatest gamble of his career By virtue of fame, charisma, and ingenuity, Franklin outmaneuvered British spies, French informers, and hostile colleagues engineered the Franco American alliance of l and helped to negotiate the peace of l The eight year French mission stands not only as Franklin s most vital service to his country but as the most revealing of the manIn A Great Improvisation, Stacy Schiff draws from new and little known sources to illuminate the least explored part of Franklin s life Here is an unfamiliar, unforgettable chapter of the Revolution, a rousing tale of American infighting, and the treacherous backroom dealings at Versailles that would propel George Washington from near decimation at Valley Forge to victory at Yorktown From these pages emerge a particularly human and yet fiercely determined Founding Father, as well as a profound sense of how fragile, improvisational, and international was our country s bid for independence.


10 thoughts on “A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America

  1. Kevin Shepherd Kevin Shepherd says:

    I first became aware of Stacy Schiff in 2013 when she was one of the featured commencement speakers at my son s college graduation I was so impressed with her that I rushed out and bought Cleopatra a historical biography that read like an exquisite work of fiction I was expectingof the same with A Great Improvisation ummm, yes and no Whereas Cleopatra is enchanting and rather romantic, AGI is muchacademic and intense If your interest in American History is casual, I ca I first became aware of Stacy Schiff in 2013 when she was one of the featured commencement speakers at my son s college graduation I was so impressed with her that I rushed out and bought Cleopatra a historical biography that read like an exquisite work of fiction I was expectingof the same with A Great Improvisation ummm, yes and no Whereas Cleopatra is enchanting and rather romantic, AGI is muchacademic and intense If your interest in American History is casual, I can only predict one of two outcomes either A you won t finish it, or B your affinity for colonial history will exponentially increase So, if you re quite sure you are in the mood for a excruciatingly detailed piece about Benjamin Franklin, his cohorts, and their contributions to the American Revolution, then sit down, saddle up and strap in You will not be disappointed


  2. Jerome Jerome says:

    Despite our own self serving myths about our war for independence, the American revolution did not reflect the action of a single country coming of age Rather, the revolution marked the debut of the United States onto the global stage where France and the rest of Europe had already been players The revolution was not so much as won by the colonies as by the aid of the French and the blunders by the British The foreign aid provided by France during the revolution was essential to the outcome Despite our own self serving myths about our war for independence, the American revolution did not reflect the action of a single country coming of age Rather, the revolution marked the debut of the United States onto the global stage where France and the rest of Europe had already been players The revolution was not so much as won by the colonies as by the aid of the French and the blunders by the British The foreign aid provided by France during the revolution was essential to the outcome of the uprising Critical to getting these funds from the French monarchy was Benjamin Franklin The story of the eight years he spent in Paris, persuading the French to support the fledgling American army in ways both concrete and symbolic, is the subject of Schiff s book The story of how it was obtained is fascinating and messy, as diplomacy often is And in that age, diplomacy and intrigue were separated only by the thinnest of lines As the title implies, he was open to spontaneous inventiveness when it came to pursuing his goals Schiff attributes Franklin s success to his laissez faire attitude, an ability to be logical without being pedantic, and a single minded approach that both genial and ruthless There probably was no one else better suited to the posting George Washington wanted to win the war without French assistance, and John Adams wanted to win without owing anything to France Franklin, however, simply wanted to win.Franklin and his mission which he actually opposed at first are at the center of events in the book, but Schiff s in depth research and great writing makes us intimate with the labyrinth of colossal personalities and complex issues involved She effectively shows how Franklin whose diplomatic credentials were dubious at best given that America was far from a sovereign nation in a technical sense forged a rocky trans Atlantic alliance with France Even after the alliance was fromalized by treaty in 1778, it was unclear whether France would enter the war And when they did, joint efforts between France and America were far from coordinated During those years, Franklin lived in houses teeming with both French and British spies, having no secretary except his own adept grandson, and receiving from Congress new emissaries and contradictory or unnecessary directions We also see how Franklin attempted to adapt to the culture The French of that day placed a great emphasis on high minded ideals conscience, honor, faith, etc that, contrary to the heroic and noble mythology that we would like to believe, simply were not widespread in America.Adding to the challenge was the colorful cast of Frenchmen that he had to deal with each day They ranged from Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, the flamboyant secret agent who provided the colonies with many of their weapons to the young Marquis de Lafayette, who received the weapons and sailed recklessly to America against the king s orders to the stubborn British ambassador to Versailles, the Viscount Stormont The American cast of characters was no less of a challenge to Franklin His American colleagues in Paris some of whom were also supposed to be representing America in France, and some of whom stayed on the congressional payroll but simply never went to their postings in other countries were full of complaints about Franklin Schiff paints a vivid picture of the infighting among John Adams who hated Franklin , John Jay, Richard Izard, Arthur and William Lee, Silas Deane who hated the French while Franklin still loved Britain , and the various others Some of Franklin s colleagues made utter fools of themselves as he attempted to reach his objective.The British launched an aggressive operation to spy on Franklin The British ran a very effective network of spies in paris that kept Stormont well informed of most of Franklin s clandestine activities The British spy Edward Edwards was particularly ingenious Edwards was actually trusted by the Americans and distrusted by his superiors, who spied on him in turn.Through all the back biting treachery, Franklin who once satirized Machiavelli managed to persuade the French government to support the war with its navy, gunpowder, thousands of soldiers, and provide contributions which would amount to something like thirteen billion in today s dollars Franklin never directly asked for help from the French Instead he tried to manipulate events in such a way that France would see intervention in the war to be in her own interest.And, when the English finally admitted defeat, Franklin, along with John Jay and John Adams, negotiated a most beneficent peace This is a fascinating story providing yet another dimension to this supposedly familiar figure Schiff has written a lively story with a cast of colorful characters and plot twists that could easily compare to a work of historical fiction An interesting part of the narrative was how the French mission brought out Franklin s best and worst traits Franklin was personally averse to intrigue, but there was plenty of it to be had during his time in Paris During his posting, Franklin displayed the wit, charisma, ingenuity and silkiness that he was known for At the same time, he could be negligent, manipulative, inconsistent, unmethodical, uncommunicative, and vindictive We are commanded to forgive our enemies, Franklin noted, but we are nowhere commanded to forgive our friends Franklin was like a lightning rod for people with the wildest ideas, not just in America, but in France as well I don t know what it is about our home, Franklin s wife once said, but not one madman sets foot on the American continent without preceding directly to our front door Jean Paul Marat was but one of the many colorful characters that Franklin attracted.Ms Schiff masterfully weaves a thousand andstrands and bits of human folly and achievement into a delightful, humorous tale of one man s often erring, sometimes stumbling but ultimate success in helping the colonies become a nation, and gives us a unique view of a man and the difficult birth of his nation The writing is flowery to the point of exaggeration The slippery stew which was a Paris thoroughfare accounted for the city s most singular danger No man who had the means walked through the filth of the streets, and no man who had the means hired a driver with any respect for the individual who did But in all, an excellent and thoroughly enjoyable book


  3. Brian Brian says:

    A Great Improvisation provides a focus on the time Benjamin Franklin spent as the American envoy to France negotiating treaties with all the European powers and providing American representation in Versailles From the intrigues of the court, to the social life of Paris, to the intricate negotiations with not only France but peace with Great Britain and commercial treaties with almost everyother power in Europe The drawback to this book is the heavy prose that drags on with high amounts of deta A Great Improvisation provides a focus on the time Benjamin Franklin spent as the American envoy to France negotiating treaties with all the European powers and providing American representation in Versailles From the intrigues of the court, to the social life of Paris, to the intricate negotiations with not only France but peace with Great Britain and commercial treaties with almost everyother power in Europe The drawback to this book is the heavy prose that drags on with high amounts of detail that includes superfluous words without coming to a quick point Often times the description is so much that you have to skim just to find the point of the paragraph The book focuses quite a bit on the relationship between Franklin and many of the French he interacted with and is based on quite a bit of speculation and accounts from those hostile to Franklin I think this is a book with a lot in it for those willing to take the time to decipher the prose and I did find many great additions to the Franklin myth and legend while also getting a rehash of some of the tried and true Franklin stories For those who want something only on the time in France this is a great book to take a look at if you have a reference point for what was occurring back home It is not a great book for those just starting out on this time period in US history If you want a great primer for Franklin use Issacsson s book for a view of his whole life Overall though worth the time if you are willing to work through the language


  4. Laura Laura says:

    This one is densely packed with a lot of information If I were rating it solely on the meticulous quality of the research, I d probably give it a 5 I m used to McCullough and Isaacson though, and styles similar to theirs I m sure Ms Schiff is very bright, but she apparently needs to prove it to her readers, resulting in a densely written book, at least for the first half Once the war was won, it became muchreadable and I really enjoyed the second half of the book Regarding the audio This one is densely packed with a lot of information If I were rating it solely on the meticulous quality of the research, I d probably give it a 5 I m used to McCullough and Isaacson though, and styles similar to theirs I m sure Ms Schiff is very bright, but she apparently needs to prove it to her readers, resulting in a densely written book, at least for the first half Once the war was won, it became muchreadable and I really enjoyed the second half of the book Regarding the audio performance, I d say it was well done Most of the action takes place in France, and I d say the narrator s pronunciations are absolutely fine She reads a little slowly, but that s required for this book, at least for the first couple hundred pages Anyone with a real interest in the Revolutionary period should make time to read this one There s a lot here to learn, and it s obvious Schiff did her homework ETA There s a long cast of characters at the beginning of the book Very important listing There are tons of people here Maybe that s part of the reason I read slower at the beginning also, in addition to getting used to her writing style


  5. Andrew Andrew says:

    In this book, Stacy Schiff covers the trip Benjamin Franklin took to France in order to help America gain its independence from Great Britain The story is interesting in itself, and needs little for its improvement However, Schiff is able to use analysis to describe not only what Franklin is doing, but what he is thinking while it is being done It is an opportunity to meet the man who was so revered in colonial America As a writer, I was able to learn from Schiff that it is not so much what In this book, Stacy Schiff covers the trip Benjamin Franklin took to France in order to help America gain its independence from Great Britain The story is interesting in itself, and needs little for its improvement However, Schiff is able to use analysis to describe not only what Franklin is doing, but what he is thinking while it is being done It is an opportunity to meet the man who was so revered in colonial America As a writer, I was able to learn from Schiff that it is not so much what the person is doing, but what they understand those actions to mean Franklin had his finger on the pulse of posterity, which is made clear in Schiff s depiction Schiff also showed me that it is possible to take a historical situation and spice it up to make it interesting Sometimes, however, one must dig deeper to find the hints of interest This book, while geared toward those who enjoy American history, would also be a great read for people who want to know how America was formed It shows that there was muchto starting America than simply penning the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution


  6. Katy Katy says:

    An account of Franklins stay in Paris during and after the Revolutionary War It is common knowledge that he was there, that he worked for American interests with the French court but the extent of his influence and how much his actions actually effected the outcome of the war is extraordinary Franklin himself comes alive in this account, and my thanks to Schiff for keeping him human and not some infallible hero Franklin s petulance, love of luxury and the good life , his indecision and h An account of Franklins stay in Paris during and after the Revolutionary War It is common knowledge that he was there, that he worked for American interests with the French court but the extent of his influence and how much his actions actually effected the outcome of the war is extraordinary Franklin himself comes alive in this account, and my thanks to Schiff for keeping him human and not some infallible hero Franklin s petulance, love of luxury and the good life , his indecision and his infamous appetites are a nice juxtaposition to his dedication, drive and immense intelligence, not to mention his limitless love for his country and the American dream


  7. Mark Mark says:

    Enjoyable read about Franklin s peace treaty work with the French.It s not a rosy picture read, Franklin is definitely presented warts and all, but he was apparently the best man for the job, by a large margin.John Adams is usually my favorite founding father, but he shows to bad advantage as a diplomat to a Monarchy It s amazing that the French to give us as much support as they did.


  8. Paul Paul says:

    Good book covering the Revolutionary period in France and how the US got French support.


  9. Matthew Pandel Matthew Pandel says:

    Fantastic the whole way through


  10. Eschargot Eschargot says:

    Had bought this book almost a decade ago Finally set it free It covers Franklin s years in France in great detail The book showcases his ability to deal with the French court with great aplomb and yet struggle in dealing with his own team and Congress His constant nudging of Vergennes for funding was the bonanza that financed the war of independence and which eventually and unintentionally led to the bankruptcy of Louis XVI s France His taciturnity to the constant distrust, complaining an Had bought this book almost a decade ago Finally set it free It covers Franklin s years in France in great detail The book showcases his ability to deal with the French court with great aplomb and yet struggle in dealing with his own team and Congress His constant nudging of Vergennes for funding was the bonanza that financed the war of independence and which eventually and unintentionally led to the bankruptcy of Louis XVI s France His taciturnity to the constant distrust, complaining and back biting that his co commissioners Arthur William Lee and John Adams had with and about him pushed some of them to the point of being unhinged Adams was, in particular, very scathing when writing about Franklin.In the end I ll just quote the author about Franklin He was no less the revolutionary for being a congenial and cool headed late bloomer He never allowed himself to be constrained by accepted practice or prevailing ethos he was always prepared to throw piety out of the window He preferred dialogue to dogma To that extent the charges of heresy were in order The supreme gift was his flexibility He was the opportunistic envoy from the land of opportunity, that pluralistic singularity that is the United States


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