This is an outstanding book. Why, unless you're a democracy geek or an Enlightenment anorak, should your care about rude, under-sexed Tom from Thetford? Because his life was hard and wonderful, because he hated all the things everyone should hate, because he taught himself everything, not least how to write like a dream. Tom Paine is not as well known as he should be. He's as great a figure as his near-contemporary Voltaire. Everything he believed in we should cherish, most of all the disposition never never to give up.You hope would-be revolutionaries wherever they are will read Tom rather than Karl - the world will be better if they do. And John Keane writes as well as his subject - this is a classic biography, a perfect matching of author and subject.