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Rights of Man, Common Sense, and Other Political Writings

von Thomas Paine

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362255,820 (3.95)1
Paine was the first international revolutionary. His Common Sense was the most widely read pamphlet of the American Revolution; his Rights of Man was the most famous defence of the French. He was an examplary democrat whise ideas still capture broadly the beliefs behind liberal welfare states today.
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"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sun-shine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country: but he that stands it now, deserves the thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered: yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."

Rousing words like these would not be heard today even on the loudest of cable news talk shows. Yet, here we are in one of a set of letters to Americans - from this Englishman - reading a call to action. It is said that George Washington had this read to his troops.

If you read his writings today, you may want to delete any evidence on your smartphone. Was he a libertarian? He wanted the smallest government. Was he a conservative? He wanted change and he wanted it now. Was he a socialist? an internationalist?

Yes, he apparently had a significant ego (maybe he just read his own writings at times) and his nationalist loyalties were a bit scattered through his life, but boy, he could arouse his readers.

So where does this sort of life get you? A few months in a French jail; six people at your funeral and your own remains get lost.

Even more than his politics (he really aimed his calls to people across nations), he wanted a base income - a kind of minimum wage - voting even for those not owning property (this was just too much for John Adams) and, hang on, he railed against all organized religions. He claimed to believe in one God but went after the Bible held tightly to the bosoms of those around him.

So who wants to write about this guy? Not many. Mark Philp is a reluctant scholar who seems to have drawn a short straw for this Oxford University Press edition of their Very Interesting People series.

The late Christopher Hitchens champions Paine. However, you can hear crickets when Paine's name comes up from many others.

Maybe it is time to read again his rousing writings and try to find the man.

Oh, and a hearty Happy Birthday to Thomas Paine, wherever his weary bones may be. ( )
1 abstimmen Forthwith | Dec 22, 2015 |
One of the premier writers during the revolutionary crisis. Paine's Common Sense alone is worth buying this volume, but to have a collection of his other writings as well is a great bonus. ( )
1 abstimmen ulfhjorr | Jan 7, 2006 |
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AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Thomas PaineHauptautoralle Ausgabenberechnet
Philp, MarkHerausgeberCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
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Paine was the first international revolutionary. His Common Sense was the most widely read pamphlet of the American Revolution; his Rights of Man was the most famous defence of the French. He was an examplary democrat whise ideas still capture broadly the beliefs behind liberal welfare states today.

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