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Common Sense (Little Books of Wisdom) Hardcover – July 1, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-1557094582 ISBN-10: 1557094586

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"These are the times that try men's souls," begins Thomas Paine's first Crisis paper, the impassioned pamphlet that helped ignite the American Revolution. Published in Philadelphia in January of 1776, Common Sense sold 150,000 copies almost immediately. A powerful piece of propaganda, it attacked the idea of a hereditary monarchy, dismissed the chance for reconciliation with England, and outlined the economic benefits of independence while espousing equality of rights among citizens. Paine fanned a flame that was already burning, but many historians argue that his work unified dissenting voices and persuaded patriots that the American Revolution was not only necessary, but an epochal step in world history. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Review

"Edward Larkin's new edition of Common Sense will be welcomed by readers. With a lively and detailed introduction, thorough scholarly notes, and a representative selection of the contemporaneous responses it provoked, this should become the definitive new edition of Paine's classic tract." (Richard Boyd)

"The big problem with Paine is that current readers have trouble seeing why his ideas did not seem so common-sensical to eighteenth-century people. Larkin addresses this problem with supplementary texts that focus on the debate over independence in America; along with his interesting and approachable introduction, the combination makes for the best edition of Paine's Common Sense available." (Daniel Vickers)

"There are many fine editions of this indispensable American text. But this one is richer and more rewarding than the others. It invites readers to encounter Common Sense in the fullness of its historical setting. And as it does, it makes plain how utterly Tom Paine towered above all other Revolutionary writers." (Michael W. Zuckerman)

"Edward Larkin's new edition of Tom Paine's Common Sense will be a boon to teachers and students. It thoughtfully contextualizes Paine's pamphlet while highlighting the singularity of his voice. Most importantly, it will aid students in placing Common Sense in that absolutely central eighteenth-century culture war: the beginning of the unfinished argument over modern democracy." (Michael Meranze) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Little Books of Wisdom
  • Hardcover: 76 pages
  • Publisher: Applewood Books (July 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557094586
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557094582
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 0.4 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (230 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This book should be required reading for every American.
Jwp914
Even though Thomas Paine wrote this book over 200 years ago his thoughts are still worth reading.
Lonnie L. Wibberding Jr.
Common Sense is well written and very clearly expresses Paine's thoughts.
Tradecraft

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

303 of 311 people found the following review helpful By William Brennan on July 18, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Common Sense is one of the greatest articles of argumentation ever written. Paine was the finest pamphleteer of his age and was able to turn the discontents of the colonists and, especially, the intellectual leaders of the revolutionary movement into arguments that were easily understood by ordinary colonials and which inspired them to rally to the cause of independence.

I first read Common Sense more than fifty years ago and remember well being impressed with Paine's ability to carry arguments and to anticipate those of his opponents before his tract even hit the street. Over the course of my lifetime, I was inspired by the author and became a pamphleteer of sorts myself. I always told my colleagues that I wanted to become a poor man's Tom Paine. But after reading the piece once again, I realize that almost all who aspire to follow in his footsteps, if not fill his shoes, are doomed to become but very poor copies of the original.

Other reviewers have noted the fluidity of his writing; it reads as simply, directly and forcefully today as it must have nearly a quarter of a millennium ago. Obviously, one did not have to be a great reader to be swayed by the force of Paine's words or to be inspired to the side of those wishing to throw off the English yoke.

I was struck by echoes of Paine in many great American speeches that were running through my mind as I read. A number of quotes from Robert F. Kennedy seemed to have been directly inspired by Common Sense, and I hastily looked them up and offer these two for your consideration:

"It is not enough to understand, or to see clearly. The future will be shaped in the arena of human activity, by those willing to commit their minds and their bodies to the task.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Rayden on May 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
Over two hundred years after its initial publication, Thomas Paine's `Common Sense' is one of the most influential pamphlets ever written in the English language. Along with Jefferson's Declaration of Independence (1776), Harriet Beecher Stowe's `Uncle Tom's Cabin' (1851-1852), and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (1863), Paine's `Common Sense' can claim to be one of the first works to have instantly captured and then so permanently held the national imagination. `Common Sense', fiercely surpassed colonial newspaper circulations of the time by reaching a record breaking figure of 120,000 - 150,000 copies solely in its first year eventually culminating in a fifth of the adult American population to have either read Common Sense or to have had it read to them during the course of the Revolution. Paine can profess to have had the first ever American best-seller.

`Common Sense' addresses a people that were divided over the question of independence and in it Paine strongly attacks the virtue of a connection with England and presents an emphatic argument for immediate separation. Paine incorporated both a secular and religious argument for independence, thus freeing himself of any erroneous description that he was a Lockean liberal in the Hartzian mold and that Common Sense was simply a bourgeois manifesto. Paine was very much an original thinker among the Enlightenment philosophers and his unparalleled prescription for a new form of government, a united American Republic, and the manner in which it should be conducted were central to the American political vision that emerged during and immediately after the revolution.

[Part of the above review is taken from; "Common Sense?" by Alexander Rayden. Copyright 2006, All Rights Reserved]
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115 of 133 people found the following review helpful By Louie Louie on February 6, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a GREAT book. Memorable. It gives one a great understanding of how the founders of the US Constitution were thinking.

After reading this, I realized that the US has come almost full circle, back to a monarchy, a Congress that does not respond honestly but by money and the millions of "religious monarchists" who want to make all the laws for everyone else.

Read it.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on April 3, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Thomas Paine is considered one of America's founding fathers. Even though he arrived in British North American colonies in 1774, just two years before the war for independence, he was immediately convinced of the necessity of the independence. Furthermore, as a pamphleteer he strove to convince other reluctant colonists that their rights will only be truly respected if they achieve a complete independence from Britain. The most famous of these pamphlets, "Common Sense," was published early in 1776 and arguably had the greatest impact on the colonists' decision to declare their independence later on that year.

Paine's writing is lucid and clear even today, some 236+ years after the pamphlet has been published. Paine uses arguments from history, the Bible, and most importantly common sense in order to convince his readers in the soundness of their striving for independence. Paine is very passionate in his presentation, and it is hard not to be swayed by his arguments. Furthermore, some of the main points that he made are extremely relevant for any generation, as they cut to the very essence of what it means to have a good and legitimate government. This is one book that anyone who is interested in politics and public good ought to read.
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