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Common Sense, The Rights of Man and Other Essential Writings of Thomas Paine (Signet Classics) Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0451528896 ISBN-10: 0451528891

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Signet Classics (July 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451528891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451528896
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 4.2 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (220 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Without...Paine, the sword of Washington would have been wielded in vain."
-John Adams

About the Author

Thomas Paine was born in Thetford, England, in 1737, the son of a staymaker. He had little schooling and worked at a number of jobs, including tax collector, a position he lost for agitating for an increase in excisemen’s pay. Persuaded by Benjamin Franklin, he emigrated to America in 1774. In 1776 he began his American Crisis series of thirteen pamphlets, and also published the incalculably influential Common Sense, which established Paine not only as a truly revolutionary thinker, but as the American Revolution’s fiercest political theorist. In 1787 Paine returned to Europe, where he became involved in revolutionary politics. In England his books were burned by the public hangman. Escaping to France, Paine took part in drafting the French constitution and voted against the king’s execution. He was imprisoned for a year and narrowly missed execution himself. In 1802 he returned to America and lived in New York State, poor, ill and largely despised for his extremism and so-called atheism (he was in fact a deist). Thomas Paine died in 1809. His body was exhumed by William Cobbett, and the remains were taken to England for a memorial burial. Unfortunately, the remains were subsequently lost.

Customer Reviews

Everyone in America should have this book read, and shared with their children.
Jamie M. Babcock
When I went to high school, the school board had long since taken this book off the list of required reading.
Brian D. Baird
This is a must read for every american to understand the history of the ideals this country was founded on.
Justin Greene

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

135 of 139 people found the following review helpful By R. DelParto VINE VOICE on November 13, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In an unrelenting quest to understanding the history of the United States, one obscure name comes to mind, Thomas Paine. Paine helped establish the meaning of democracy and the "united" in United States. His two monumental works, COMMON SENSE AND RIGHTS OF MAN, provided the philosophical and rhetorical building blocks that the founding fathers, such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, et al., would emulate with the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Many take for granted the origins of freedom and democracy in the United States, and as with many school history textbooks depict, Paine merely appears in a paragraph or two, and quickly disappears to historical oblivion.

Nevertheless, when one reads COMMON SENSE AND RIGHTS OF MAN: AND OTHER ESSENTIAL WRITINGS OF THOMAS PAINE, there will be no doubt how significant his philosophical and political writings transformed the political structure of the colonies. Although this may sound somewhat romanticized, Paine's words ignited the energy for the colonists to free themselves from the tyrannical-monarchical leadership of England's King George III. With all the talk of Paine being a founding father, he may also be considered the father of revolution, American Revolution and French Revolution, and human rights. Without the inspiration from his friend Edmund Burke, author of REFLECTIONS ON THE REVOLUTION IN FRANCE, Paine may not have been able to write the pamphlet Rights of Man. Indeed, his power of the written word translated to revolutionary action, and Jeffersonian ideology.

In clear and no nonsense language, Paine's perspective of the state of the colonies are elaborately told in COMMON SENSE.
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89 of 95 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read the other reviews and while I agree with them, I must add that this book is more than history. I remember reading Paine's critique of the English government being "so exceedingly complex" that when a problem developed, politicians would fight for years deciding whose fault it was. Finally, when they would try to solve the problem, everyone had a different solution. I thought I was reading an editorial from USNews. I was amazed that many problems that incited the colonies to revolt are now present in our new government. Read this as more than great history. Read it as political science, and public commentary.
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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Theresa Vawter on August 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
"Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices." This is just a sample of the wisdom of Thomas Paine in Common Sense. His vivid words and sound arguements make it clear why this pamphlet helped to ignite the revolution. He starts by discussing the general design of government and talking briefly about the English Constitution. The second chapter deals with how silly the whole concept of heredity succession is and how the monarchy has failed. It's reminiscent of Sir Thomas More's Utopia in that respect. Chapter three discusses America at the current time and chapter four is about America's ability to fight Britain at the time. The appendix refutes arguements in the king's speech, which reached America the day Common Sense came out. After reading this important piece of American literature I was ready to go out and fight the British. Thomas Paine's words still have that effect 224 years later.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Thomas A. Fenton on December 10, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Thomas Paine is essential reading to anyone who wants to understand American History. However, this particular edition, presented by Signet Classics, is the most disappointing presentation of any classic I have ever seen. While "Common Sense" appears to be presented in its entirety, "The American Crisis" (aka simply "The Crisis") is not. Parts 2, 6, and 9-12 are omitted entirely, and parts 3, 4, 7 & 8 are presented with only "selections". I don't know about any other readers, but this is extremely annoying to me. It is almost as annoying as when Readers Digest decided to present an edited version of The Bible, omitting sections they felt were unimportant because they were duplicates of other sections. I certainly do not equate the writings of Thomas Paine with those of the Bible, but the principle is the same: I do not want someone omitting sections that the author, whether it is God or Thomas Paine, felt should be part of what he had to say. I am reading "The Crisis" presented in a library copy edited by Eric Foner and am looking for an edition of my own. If you want to just hit the highlights of Paine's work, then the Signet edition may be for you. If you want to read Thomas Paine as he spoke to America, Britain and the world, don't waste your money on this edition.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Maria Folsom on January 21, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is what we're founded on, what America is supposed to be, and the way we should conduct our political affairs. Paine should probably be required reading for every citizen, every student, anyone wondering what freedom really means. Besides being informative, it is incisive, sarcastic, humorous, and passionate. The English is old and dated, but that just adds to its delight. I read this in short segments and then thought about each chapter. It made me proud to be an American and sad to realize how much freedom we've lost since Paine's day.
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