Wood examines Benjamin Franklin’s careful self-construction and political formation—paying close attention to his often-overlooked early career as a British politician. I don’t like the word “Americanization,” but it makes sense here. The course of Franklin’s life is a good metaphor in some ways for the separation of the colonies from the empire: early cooperation and codependence, middle frustration and misunderstanding, final renunciation and conflict. At the same time, Wood carefully extracts and explains a flawed and angry human being from the mythical Franklin we learned about in middle school.