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Common Sense

Common Sense (Little Books of Wisdom) (Hardcover) by Thomas Paine (Author)

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Thomas Paine arrived in America from England in 1774. A friend of Ben Franklin, he was a writer of poetry and tracts condemning the slave trade. In 1775, as hostilities between Britain and the colonies intensified, Paine wrote Common Sense to encourage the colonies to break the British exploitative hold through independence. The little booklet of 50 pages was published January 10, 1776 and sold a half-million copies, approximately equal to 75 million copies today.

 

From the Inside Flap

In 1776, America was a hotbed of enlightenment and revolution. Thomas Paine not only spurred his fellow Americans to action but soon came to symbolize the spirit of the Revolution. His elegantly persuasive pieces spoke to the hearts and minds of those fighting for freedom. He was later outlawed in Britain, jailed in France, and finally labeled an atheist upon his return to America.

 

Reviews

Click here for an article about Thomas Paine's changing reputation from the August 1892 issue of the North American Review.

4 out of 5 stars The logic of Common Sense, August 16, 2000

By Theresa Vawter (Boise, ID USA)

 

This review is from: Common Sense (Dover Thrift Editions) (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 [arguments] 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 [arguments] 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.

 

5 out of 5 stars The First Ever American Best-seller, May 15, 2006

By  Alexander Rayden

 

This review is from: Common Sense (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]

 

5 out of 5 stars more than history, September 16, 1999

By A Customer

 

This review is from: Common Sense (Dover Thrift Editions) (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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