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82 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CONTINUING TO DEFEND THE RIGHTS OF HUMANITY TODAY, 5 July 1999
By A Customer
The Rights of Man is a riposte to Edmund Burke's criticism of the French Revolution. Its message is the superiority of reason, in the form of Republican government armed with the Declaration of the Rights of Man, over despotism which holds populations in ignorance. With the American and French revolutions fresh in his mind, Paine was writing in a world on the threshold of freedom and that comes through in his forceful and forthright style. That said, and most important for the reader to appreciate, much of what he has to say still applies today. Paine in scathing in his critique of hereditary monarchy and privilege. He says "the idea of hereditary legislation is.......as absurd as an hereditary mathematician, or an hereditary wise man." He rejects the notion of government laws being justified by tradition and therefore irrevocable. His argument against Burke's defence of the 1688 revolution in England is perhaps the best in the book. Paine argues that the only thing that is truly hereditary is the Rights of Man : "The Rights of men in society, are neither devisable, nor transferrable, nor annihilable, but descendable only." The book is a superb polemic when both understood in its historical context and applied to world politics today. His arguments for reform of the House of Lords strike a particularly pertinent note. He expresses liberal doctrines that many people take for granted but in our own genocidal times Paine reminds us that many of the topics that impassioned him should continue to impassion everyone with an interest in humanity. The style of the writing may put off a few as many themes disappear and reappear throughout the book instead of being dealt with in a coherant whole. The fact that it was written in two parts and that he is one of the greatest pamphleteers of modern times should compensate for this minor irritation.
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Version of a Classic Work, 23 Jan 2001
By A Customer
I bought this book over a year ago and it is a joy to read. The introduction by Michael Foot is informative and concise and helps set up the book in the correct historical context. Common Sense is one of the most important and under-rated tracts in history, influencing as it did the American revolution and therefore the French revolution and The Rights of Man is an eloquent argument against authoritarian rule and a call for democracy which was way ahead of its time and still extremely relevent. I urge you to buy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars including one of the most important statements of the rights of man ever written., 22 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Rights of Man (Dover Thrift Editions) (Paperback)
this book is full of important statements on the rights of man which have founded the strength's of modern Western civilized society. It can be read in parts and pick out the most relevant to your interest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Piece of history, 20 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Rights of Man (Dover Thrift Editions) (Paperback)
This primary source is a must read for history student. Have done an assignment based on this source in radical cultures, the intro proved v useful
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4.0 out of 5 stars Just what I needed, 5 Sep 2014
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This review is from: The Rights of Man (Dover Thrift Editions) (Paperback)
I purchased this as I was studying a Jurisprudence module at my University (Northumbria), and it was also useful for the Trials of dissenters module taught there too.

From the non-academic perspective, it is an interesting read, and very well written (especially considering that Tom never went to school).
It is an easy to understand and thought provoking read that still has importance today.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars you' gain with paine, 21 April 2010
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Caroline Ovens "ronnorock" (scotland) - See all my reviews
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I cant recomend this book highly enough, it may be hundreds of years old but its right on the money, even today. Thomas paine was said to be the first whisleblower and it was john pilger who said it, all books by paine and pilger must be read by all. Thomas paine was years ahead of his time, a brilliant common sense mind.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great classics of political philosophy, 25 July 2012
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Mr. John S. Gammon (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rights of Man (Dover Thrift Editions) (Paperback)
This is one of the most remarkable books ever written, by an author of modest education, expressing political views only now internationally acceptable, afer three centuries.
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5.0 out of 5 stars We all have a lot to learn from Paine today, 28 May 2012
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Dan (Colchester, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Rights of Man (Dover Thrift Editions) (Paperback)
Who is this book useful for? Just about anyone with any interest in politics, history or philosophy. Rights of Man is a brilliant insight into the real ideas of the French Revolution, and therein the American Revolution; the flowing style of Paine gets right at the heart of the issue, and his one-line quips often shed a whole new light on things we take for granted today.

Slating monarchy, a religious state (or 'church state'), anything over than Reason, conservatism and building a fortress around the ideas of the French Revolution, Paine - even now over 200 years later - gives a sturdy defence to the ideals that most people protect today. Furthermore, he does it in such a way it makes the case seem irrefutable.

We are still very much in the Enlightenment phase of ideas, those posed (as Paine says) by Rousseau, Voltaire and Montesquieu. What Paine offers is still important because it reminds us what those ideas were, and how we have veered off from them. It would do no government or people any harm to try and revert back to the ideals posed by Paine and the French Revolutionaries.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Rights of Man - Part 1, 18 Feb 2012
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E. Jayaraman (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Rights of Man (Dover Thrift Editions) (Paperback)
Part 1 of the book could make an interesting read for some one with the background of the French Revolution and has read Burke's Reflection. Otherwise the book might excite only at places, but still there is enough food for thought.Yet to read Part 2.

More thoughts on Part 1 of the book at : [...]
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4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, accessible, political writing, 4 Dec 2011
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Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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Tom Paine's Rights of Man, written in two parts (1791 & 1792), was a response to Edmund Burke's criticisms of the French Revolution. It's an optimistic work, looking forward to the ongoing development, both moral and political, of mankind, and the eradication of 'ignorance'. A combination of idealism and something more prosaic, it calls for democratic government by and for the people, for the greater good, one which limits itself to the support and defence of man's natural rights of liberty, equality, freedom of conscience and freedom of speech.

More or less self-educated, Paine's writing is powerful, passionate and accessible, making it no surprise that he was a best-selling pamphlet author in his time. Today, he is hailed as the originator of the idea of human rights - but his understanding of what this means is a far cry from our contemporary usage where, seemingly, everything is a 'right' from decent school dinners to designer shoes and handbags. Paine, importantly, explores not just rights, but also the duties and responsibilities of the citizen.

It is noticeable that Paine is completely uninterested in the idea of women's suffrage and the gendering of rights, a marked absence in his texts which serves to slightly delimit his democratic ideal.

The Penguin edition has a good introduction by Eric Foner, one of the great Paine scholars.
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The Rights of Man (Dover Thrift Editions)
The Rights of Man (Dover Thrift Editions) by Thomas Paine (Paperback - 1 Feb 2000)
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