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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paine Makes Sense
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...
Published on 4 April 2011 by Dr. Bojan Tunguz

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3.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for anyone studying the politics and history of ...
Essential reading for anyone studying the politics and history of Western Civilisation.
Given that this was written in the 18th Century, don't expect flowing English though.
Published 8 months ago by Mick


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paine Makes Sense, 4 April 2011
By 
Dr. Bojan Tunguz (Indiana, USA) - See all my reviews
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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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relevant for today as you can see may parallels, 5 Aug. 2011
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
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"... let none be heard among us, then those of A GOOD CITIZEN, ANOPEN AND RESOLUTE FRIEND, AND A VIRTUOUS SUPPORTER OF THE RIGHTS OF MANKIND..."

If you don't see the above quote in your copy evidently there are different copies of "Common Sense" with some variances. All have the standard four chapters; additions have other materials... Most of the versions I have come in books marked "Common Sense and other writings by Thomas Payne."

As you read "Common Sense" you'll realize there are several ways you can approach this information. One way is to look at it in the time period that it was written as one of his target readers. Another is to apply it to today's way of life. I actually had chosen as a combination. I also thought that I knew the Bible pretty well but found that I had to look up some quotations that he used.

I'm not going to go into detail as I don't want to spoil the surprise of how well he writes on the subject(s). I will say this is one of those books that you want to read before you die but I prefer to read it early so I can live by what I've read. Also I was surprised as with most people quote things like the Constitution or of the Bill of Rights so forth they always quote the large esoteric statements or concepts and forget tell you that it can get bogged down with tedium. This is not the case of "Common Sense" as almost every one of his sentences as a standalone timeless thought.

Liberty! The American Revolution
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stirring stuff, 7 Dec. 2010
By 
Sebastian Palmer "sebuteo" (Cambridge, England) - See all my reviews
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Tom Paine is a stirring and inspiring writer, as befits an unabashed apologist. On the plus side this results in vigourous writing that makes for very enjoyable (and frequently very funny) reading, but on the negative side it does result in propagandist oversimplification. An Englishman who became a key figure in the emancipation of the US from British rule, this (Signet) edition collects his most famous writings together in a succinct and cheap package.

Paine is amongst the most 'eminently quotable' authors I've ever read. Whether or not one agrees with all he has to say, he certainly deserves admiration for his clarity, straightforwardness, and abundantly effusive energy. Even now, over 200 years later, much of his writing is usefully polemic and challenging, at every level from the personal to the globally geo-political. Remarkable writings by a remarkable man, and (at least when I purchased the Signet Classic edition) yours for a remarkably small amount!

QUOTES - These are Paine's words, not mine, and therefore don't necessarily reflect my views, I'm just quoting them because they're always interesting, often controversial, and sometimes very funny:

On society and government: "Society in every state is a blessing, but government in it's best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one".

On monarchy (specifically the British monarchy of the time, but, as the second quote makes clear, a reflection of his general view): "There is something exceedingly ridiculous in the composition of monarchy". And, I love this one: "monarchy in every instance is the Popery of government."

General 'self-help' style remarks, made re US independence, but applicable, I reckon, to daily mundane concerns: "Youth is the seed time of good habits." And surely many of us can relate to the woes of the "man who continues putting off some unpleasant business from day to day, yet knows it must be done, hates to set about it, wishes it over, and is continually haunted with the thoughts of its necessity"? "A good opinion of ourselves is exceedingly necessary in private life ... [&] absolutely necessary in public life".

On war (particularly and specifically re. unprovoked aggression): "To see the bounties of Heaven destroyed, the beautiful face of nature laid waste, and the choicest works of creation and art tumbled into ruin, would fetch a curse from the soul of piety itself." And, "he who is the author of a war, let's loose the whole contagion of hell, and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death."

Interestingly, some of the things he says regarding throwing off the shackles off British colonial rule have a strangely disturbing resonance with America's current position of global pre-eminence: In a letter to general Howe (re. accusations of British forgery): "It is dangerous to make men familiar with a crime which they may afterwards practise to much greater advantage against those who first taught them." Indeed, some might say modern American foreign policy and it's global geopolitical results bear this idea out! And this, written about Britain at the time - "With an unsparing hand & an insatiable mind... in a frenzy of avarice & ambition, the east & the west are doomed to tributary bondage, you rapidly earned destruction as the wages of a nation..." - might also be applied to the contemporary US situation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A familiar problem..., 5 Dec. 2014
By 
John P. Jones III (Albuquerque, NM, USA) - See all my reviews
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Thomas Paine is an "icon" of the American Revolution. Most people recognize the name from some school lesson; few people have actually read his works. It is an all too familiar problem, and one that I finally partially resolved. After those high school American history classes in which I first briefly learned of Paine, I saw an excellent play on his life at Kelly's Seed and Feed Theater in Atlanta in the 1970's, which correctly depicted how one of the men most influential in starting the American Revolution would eventually die, poor, and largely reviled, in the country he was so instrumental in creating. But that is another story...

As for "Common Sense," it was written and published in 1776, by a recent immigrant, Paine, who had left England in 1774, and settled in America with the help of Benjamin Franklin. Purportedly half a million copies of this pamphlet, of under 100 pages, were purchased in a country with only two million "free" inhabitants. It was read aloud in the taverns. And that seems to be part of the problem I had with this work: it was WRITTEN in a tavern, after several refreshments were consumed.

In less than those 100 pages, Paine ranges wide, over a variety of subjects and ideas, large and small. Call it a pastiche, if you are charitable; call it a hodge-podge if you are less so charitably inclined. It is an acerbic polemic directed towards a predetermined answer to the question of: Reconciliation or Independence? (from Great Britain...or, rather, as Paine one time states it, "Ye would tell the Royal Wretch his sins, and warn him of eternal ruin..." He digs into the absurdity of the English Constitution (which I always thought did not exist, at least in written form), blames the Jews for starting all this "King business", but deftly deflects a charge of anti-Semitism by excoriating the Quakers: "The principles of Quakerism have a direct tendency to make a man the quiet and inoffensive subject of any, and every government which is set over him... wherefore, the principle itself leads you to approve of everything, which ever happened, or may happen to kings as being his work." He sets forth various principles for the new government, which includes how there should be many representatives (but of limited duration), and warns how Bucks Co. Pennsylvania could rule the whole state if matters were properly manipulated. Oh, he also gets into a detailed accounting of the elements of the British Navy, including the costs of its guns, while also proclaiming it a "paper tiger." Hum. I'll still call it a "pastiche" because of the number of notable quotes this short tract provided. I found myself underlining more passages than works that are ten times longer.

Consider a few of them:

"The rich are in general slaves to fear, and submit to courtly power with the trembling duplicity of a Spaniel."

"In England a king hath little more to do than to make war and give away places;...a pretty business indeed for a man to be allowed eight hundred thousand sterling a year for, and worshipped into the bargain! Of more worth is one honest man to society and in the sight of God than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived."

"Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions."

(on how kings are created): "...the principal ruffian of some restless gang, whose manners or preeminence in subtlety obtained the title of chief among the plunderers."

It can all sound pretty good; even better after a few beers. Overall, 4-stars.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good collection and biography, 12 Oct. 2011
I'm glad I purchased this collection. It is a good addition to the other political and philosophical collections I have.

I saw a few other collections of Paine's work, but I chose this mostly because it has the extra biography included with it, and that is what sold me on it. I also have to say that I found the biography quite an eye-opener.

Paine's work is, of course, good, but it is fascinating to see the life that he led, and to view his writing in terms of historical context and in terms of the life he led.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Citizens or Subjects?, 21 Nov. 2013
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J. Whitfield - See all my reviews
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Thomas Paine's words are as eloquent and relevant today as they were in the eighteenth century. Thanks to him, and others like him, Americans framed a society for themselves that, in principle, deemed that all would be equal. We in Britain have yet to show such courage, and continue to maintain an unelected hereditary monarchy that deems us all to be subjects and not citizens of our own country. Well worth reading for anyone interested in developing a fairer, more just society.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant mind., 14 Nov. 2013
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Considering that Paine produced his Age Of Reason (part1) without the aid of a bible, the end result is somewhat miraculous (see what I did there?).
It's an amazing book - I'm just reviewing that book really - well thought out and pretty much the brought the end of all organised, or "revealed" religion! Well, obviously, that didn't quite happen...shame.

It would have been interesting to read of Paine's views if he had been born after Darwin...
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5.0 out of 5 stars and endeavouring to make our fellow-creatures happy. " and "All national institutions of churches, 2 Jun. 2015
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Over 200 years old, but perhaps more pressingly relevant today than they have ever been - from the Rights of Man - Government's sole purpose is safeguarding the individual and his/her inherent, inalienable rights; each societal institution that does not benefit the nation is illegitimate! Where do we begin? From Age of Reason -"I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavouring to make our fellow-creatures happy." and "All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit." Following a trajectory from Hume and Locke, and, a product of their revolutionary incubator, Paine's ideas are just as achingly pertinent to today's current political thinking and challenge to fundamentalist ideologies.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Common Sense should rule. OK?, 11 Sept. 2014
By 
M. A. Harris "Little Chiseler" (Puckeridge, Herts, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Common Sense (Kindle Edition)
You have my sympathy if you find the 19th C style of writing a tad difficult to digest. The book demands a certain amount of translation which does slow down ones understanding of the arguments. Also, pandering to his Opponent's sensibilities, Paine seems to accept the absolute validity of scripture. This is a stance at variance with modern scholarship.

But, despite these quibbles, Paine presents cogent arguments to support his theses and the text sustains the readers interest. In particular, he records the detailed history of the early days of the French Revolution, painting a picture quite different from that one can glean from later histories.

He is utterly convincing in his presentation of Liberalism as the only political system which can offer any hope for the advancement of civilisation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Common Sense, 19 Oct. 2011
By 
Rolf Dobelli "getAbstract" (Switzerland) - See all my reviews
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In Philadelphia in early 1776, Thomas Paine (1737-1809) anonymously published a booklet called Common Sense. His impassioned plea for American independence and his anti-government tirade directed at King George III sold 100,000 copies within three months. Eventually, a half-million copies circulated in an America with only two million literate citizens. Paine's clear, concise writing, intended for the masses, sacrifices no rhetorical grandeur. As contemporary Americans look back to their Founding Fathers for inspiration, Paine's reasoned, ardent words carry even greater meaning. getAbstract highly recommends this building block of the United States of America to all modern students of history.
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