This extraordinarily lively and well written biography nicely reconciles the political, literary, and scientific careers of this extraordinarily talented colonist who did indeed become, for much of the educated world, the first American. In the course of his many sea journeys to England and France, he discovered the Gulf Stream. In the course of speculating on infectious diseases and the etymology of the common cold, he asserted that neither cold nor wet seemed likely to cause illness, but being confined in a small, stuffy space with an ailing person often does. (Adams and Franklin had a bitter argument over this one night when they had to share a room in a crowded New Jersey inn) Franklin was probably the leading scientist of his generation, and his success in London and Paris made him post-colonial decades before the colonies dreamt of a new order of things.