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Stealing God's thunder : Benjamin Franklin's lightning rod and the invention of America

by Dray, Philip.

Format: Print Book 2005
Availability: Available at 4 Libraries 6 of 6 copies
Available (5)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Mezzanine - Non-fiction E302.6.F8 D69 2005
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Mezzanine - Non-fiction
Call Number  E302.6.F8 D69 2005
CLP - Main Library Pennsylvania Dept. - Open Stacks PENNA E302.6.F8 D69 2005
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Pennsylvania Dept. - Open Stacks
Call Number  PENNA E302.6.F8 D69 2005
Northland Public Library Nonfiction 973.3092 D79
Location  Northland Public Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  973.3092 D79
Penn Hills Library Non-Fiction 973.309 DRA
Location  Penn Hills Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  973.309 DRA
Sewickley Public Library Nonfiction 973.3 DRA 2005
Location  Sewickley Public Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  973.3 DRA 2005
Noncirculating (1)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Pennsylvania Dept. - Reference Stack Area PENNA r E302.6.F8 D69 2005
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Pennsylvania Dept. - Reference Stack Area
Call Number  PENNA r E302.6.F8 D69 2005
Stealing God's Thunder is a concise, richly detailed biography of Benjamin Franklin, viewing him 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 historical 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. Book jacket.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Casting Benjamin Franklin as the personification of the Enlightenment, Dray reviews the avuncular Founder's science and inventions, of which the lightning rod is merely the most famous. As background, the author offers the Boston of Puritan Cotton Mather, whom the young Franklin knew and lampooned in his early pamphleteering. The irony, Dray finds, is that the future rationalist was against one advance in progress--inoculation against smallpox--while Mather was for it. Fast-forwarding to the adult Franklin's withdrawal from business to pursue natural philosophy, after having made his fortune, Dray ruminates on Franklin's experiments with electricity, which justly enshrine his name as a great scientist, though Dray admits there is doubt about the veracity of the kite-in-the-thunderstorm experiment (an outright Franklin fraud, according to Tom Tucker's Bolt of Fate, 2003). Tracing Franklin's beliefs through science, Dray's congenial history has information that will surprise even veteran Franklin fans. --Gilbert Taylor Copyright 2005 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Ben Franklin's invention of the lightning rod and his revelation of the mysterious workings of lightning and thunder made him one of the foremost scientists of his day. As Dray, who won the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Book Prize for At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America, points out in this lively and entertaining tale, Franklin made his reputation as a scientist long before he established himself as a statesman. He began his experiments with electricity in the mid-18th century, when numerous European scientists were similarly engaged. Franklin wondered whether the properties of lightning were the same as those of electricity. He established a rodlike device on a hill that attracted lightning from a passing thunderstorm and conducted the current away from houses and farms and into the ground. In 1751, Franklin published a widely popular book on his observations of electricity, which won him admiration throughout Europe. Dray elegantly observes that Franklin was the first to espouse an atomic theory of electricity, which he saw as an elemental force of nature contained in all objects. Dray provides not only a masterful glimpse of this aspect of Franklin's work but also a captivating cultural history of Franklin's America. B&w illus. Agent, Geri Thoma. (On sale Aug. 2) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Franklin, Benjamin, -- 1706-1790.
Franklin, Benjamin, -- 1706-1790 -- Knowledge -- Physics.
Electricity -- Experiments -- History -- 18th century.
Lightning -- Experiments -- History -- 18th century.
Statesmen -- United States -- Biography.
Physicists -- United States -- Biography.
Publisher New York :Random House,2005
Edition 1st ed.
Language English
Description xviii, 279 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages [229]-239) and index.
ISBN 140006032X (hc)
Other Classic View