Joshua Rich
June 27, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

He was a magazine editor, author, and leader of many — we’re talking, of course, about Walter Isaacson. In his new book, Benjamin Franklin (Simon & Schuster, $30), the former Kissinger biographer, TIME editor, and CNN honcho tells all about the Benjamin. Here are some ticker-worthy highlights. — JR

— Young Franklin was a vegetarian — but not only for PETA-certified reasons. He saved his meat money to spend on books.

— A notorious flirt, Ben never wed his common-law wife of more than 40 years, Deborah (her potter husband hadn’t divorced her after leaving her).

— Franklin had a contentious relationship with William — his illegitimate son with an unidentified woman — who remained loyal to the Brits after the Revolution.

— His passions included chess, inventing, and a daily ”air bath” — sitting naked in his home with all the windows open.

— Franklin managed to be one of America’s greatest patriots — and still enjoyed speaking near-fluent French.

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