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A diversion about scholars of early American history who venerate Ben Franklin—who may have been as unscrupulous as many of them seem to be.

Glamorous Rebecca Kendall Lee, popular historian and TV guest, may have plagiarized a goodly bundle in Ronald Reagan: The Last Founding Father. As a consequence, she stands before an august panel of the ARHA (American Revolution Historical Association), who will determine her fate after verifying the crime. Trouble is, haughty Rebecca has scraped up her own evidence of plagiarism and lets the panelists know she’ll use it against them if they’re arrogant enough to find against her. Meanwhile, even bigger things are going on. As the panel ponders, Philadelphia is commemorating the death of Wally Rush, the great Franklin scholar and author of the wildly popular bestsellers Ben One and Ben Two. The dead scholar’s faithful friend and research associate is historian Reginald Raymond Taylor (he goes by “R”), one of the ARHA panel members on the Rebecca case. R, having grabbed the Amtrak train from the Rebecca hearing in D.C. up to Philly, learns that he’s been declared Wally Rush’s literary executor and, on top of that, that the Babbitt-like president of BFU (Benjamin Franklin University) wants R to head up a Franklin center—with comely and intelligent Clara Hopkins possibly as colleague. As tempting as Clara may be, though, R is already promised to fellow historian (and blocked writer) Samantha. Lots more than just sexual conflict is afoot, however, after R reads the explosive letter Wally Rush left for him. Could it be true? Could Franklin really have done that? It will be up to R to save or forever tarnish the reputation of the great Franklin—even as another revelation, this one about R himself, will make the Rebecca affair look like small change.

Television anchor Lehrer (Flying Crows, 2004, etc.) offers light amusement in an academia where everyone seems perpetually on leave, classroom drudgery a thing unknown.

Pub Date: May 24th, 2005
ISBN: 1-4000-6198-9
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2005


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