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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.Read more ›
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.
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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I discovered Paine about five years ago, and just the knowledge that a man like him lived was very uplifting to me. If only American schools would teach more of Paine. A true friend of man and one who truly understood what society needs, if all men -- and especially their leaders -- thought like Thomas Paine, our world would be farther, much farther ahead -- not in mere "progress," but in true, meaningful betterment -- and would be as close to "heaven" as one could imagine.
Everyone in our world needs to read and understand Thomas Paine. This book and Age of Reason are essential reading today more than ever before.
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Thomas Paine is one of the most relevant authors of the American Revolution. Common Sense, Age of Reason and Rights of Man are three books that will give a person the clearest perspective into the ideology of the founding fathers. This and John Locke's two treatises will inform any reader on the beautiful principles this country was formed upon. One can also use this book as a reference to see how modern political arenas and perspectives differ from the legacy our founding fathers wanted to leave behind.
Anyone with any interest in the American Revolution or American history would not be disappointed with this book.
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Thomas Paine is not as heralded as the rest of the Founding Fathers. This is most likely due to his not holding any political office, and largely due to his heterodox views on religion. But more about the that later.
I was quiet impressed with Paine's "Golden Voice" for the Revolution. He had a talent, and even a genius, for persuasive essaymanship. John Adams wrote, "Without the pen of Thomas Paine, the sword of Washington would have been wielded in vain."
This is a book of selections, and as C. S. Lewis observed, "The only use of selections is to deter those readers who will never appreciate the original, and thus save them from wasting their time on it, and to send all the others on the original as quickly as possible." (The Quotable Lewis, #447)
"Common Sense" (complete): Plain and simple, this should be required reading for every high school student--or even earlier. We cannot underestimate the connection between this pamphlet, Patrick Henry's "Liberty or Death" speech, and the decision to go ahead with the Declaration of Independence. In fact, the order, logic, and evidence that Paine used in this pamphlet was reused by Jefferson in the Declaration.Read more ›