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Common Sense (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – April 22, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0486296029 ISBN-10: 0486296024

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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (April 22, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486296024
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486296029
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Among the most influential authors and reformers of his age, Thomas Paine (1737–1809) was born in England but went on to play an important role in both the American and French Revolutions. In 1774, he emigrated to America where, for a time, he helped to edit the Pennsylvania Magazine. On January 10, 1776, he published his pamphlet Common Sense, a persuasive argument for the colonies' political and economic separation from Britain.
Common Sense cites the evils of monarchy, accuses the British government of inflicting economic and social injustices upon the colonies, and points to the absurdity of an island attempting to rule a continent. Credited by George Washington as having changed the minds of many of his countrymen, the document sold over 500,000 copies within a few months.
Today, Common Sense remains a landmark document in the struggle for freedom, distinguished not only by Paine's ideas but also by its clear and passionate presentation. Designed to ignite public opinion against autocratic rule, the pamphlet offered a careful balance between imagination and judgment, and appropriate language and expression to fit the subject. It immediately found a receptive audience, heartened Washington's despondent army, and foreshadowed much of the phrasing and substance of the Declaration of Independence.

Customer Reviews

Its a quick read and very interesting.
Eric P. Medlock
Many consider Paine's Common Sense to be a great American document, an opinion developed even at its original publication.
Edward Stephen Gross
I recommend all students of history read this book to gain a better understanding of our humble beginnings.
K. Christian

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 99 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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51 of 56 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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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By JMack VINE VOICE on February 14, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Writing a review for this book is a lot like writing a review for The Constitution. It seems as though there are not enough words to describe the majesty of the document.
Many of the founding fathers lacked the educational training that contemporary politicains have received. With that fact in mind, Common Sense is even more potent. Thomas Paine sought to make his fellow colonists join in rebelling against the King and the British. His argument is based in the relative absurdity of being ruled by a king whose power is gained only because of the status of his parents. Even the first king in succession probably only gained his power by being the most brutal ruffian in his gang of conquerers. For those who suggest that the relationship with Britain need not be changed because "it is not broke, so don't fix it", he uses a child that nurses too long from his mother as a metaphor. Paine continues his writing with other choice prose to rationalize independence.
Paine's words were a biting commentary against the King. Even today, these words maintain their potency. No America should live without reading this book which was the reasoning for our break from Britain.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on September 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
What makes "Common Sense" so compelling, even 225 years after it was published, is Paine's impassioned defense of American independence--a passion bordering on demagoguery. Like all heated arguments, this pamphlet is meant to get the blood boiling, and its anger and righteousness (and humor) make it far more readable than most of the writings by the nation's others founders.
Paine starts with a theory of government and an examination of the moral and political deficiencies of the constitutional monarchy practiced in England. He then proceeds to eviscerate the very idea of monarchy, detailing biblical prescriptions against it (as a response to the concept of the "divine right" of kings) and exposing the very silliness of hereditary kingship as a form of government. While perhaps "the present race of kings in the world have had an honorable origin," in all probability "the first of them [was] nothing better than the principal ruffian of some restless gang, whose savage manners or pre-eminence in subtility obtained him the title of chief among plunderers."
He follows this theoretical background with a summary of the ongoing struggle between the colonies and Britain, followed by an outline of proposals for what form an American government might take. Paine then asserts that "a separation between the countries [will] take place at one time or another" and details the advantages--military, economic, and political--that independence will bring. In an appendix, he argues against the futility of any attempt at reconciliation with the British monarchy.
At the end is attached a strongly worded response to a pamphlet written by John Pemberton on behalf of the Quaker community and opposed to military rebellion.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By bixodoido on August 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
The effect of Paine's monumental work Common Sense on the spirit of the American Revolution can never be measured. This work, originally a pamphlet, inspired and gave courage to the cause of independence, and presented the case for separation from Britain in such a way that it was difficult not to see his point. Paine was a visionary because he recognized that a union between Britain and America could never continue, and that reconciliation (after the conflicts in Boston and other places) would never be possible. This book was read and admired by Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and many other founding fathers, and its precepts did not go unnoticed by these great men.
Today, Paine's thinking is still relevant. His basic thesis that there is a difference between society and government still rings true today. As Paine points out, a society enriches our virtues, but government must restrain our vices. Paine's theory (at the beginning of the work) on the necessity of government, and his idea that the government is best which protects its people at the least possible cost to personal liberty, is just as interesting and inspiring today as it was 225 years ago. This pamphlet is applicable today as well as then because Paine believed that men should be good, and that this was the ultimate principal of successful government. "Of more worth is one honest man to society," he says, "and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived." The world would be a better place if we all had a little Common Sense.
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