Aldridge's earlier book on Thomas Paine was generally considered a ""historian's biography."" This, both in the character of Franklin and in the presentation, should avoid that designation since it not only bypasses excessive bibliographical and critical detail, but portrays Franklin as a man with many failings: he was vain; he was not incapable of sexual laxity; and he was guilty of a certain callousness toward his fellow human beings. Yet this is in no sense a chronique scandaleuse but an attempt to correlate the minutiae of Franklin's personal life with the boarder historical facts. It is also an attempt to show Franklin as a man first, as a universal genius second. Franklin had an enlightened exuberance and, with his great emotional and intellectual curiosity, enjoyed all aspects of his day to day existence, seeking ""not so much to live long as to live well."" Aldridge's biography complements the comprehensive but more adulatory biography of Garl Van Doren and goes a long way toward helping to humanize Franklin. With the shortage of good general biographies which have appeared on him, it is needed and makes a substantial contribution.