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Customer Review

29 October 2009
This book was first published in 1995 in hard-back and was reprinted in a paperback edition in 2009 to mark the 200th anniversary of Tom Paine's death on 8th June 1809. It's a long book (over 600 pages in all), exhaustively researched, and yet extremely readable, and indeed gripping in places. John Keane is undoubtedly the authority on Tom Paine today and has done the ground-work for an new complete edition of his writings (books, pamhlets, newspaper articles, letters and much else). This cannot have been an easy task since much of what Paine wrote was published anonymously. The only slight drawback of this edition, but don't be put off, is that it's a heavy book and not one to carry around. Tom Paine himself came from nowhere, a staymaker from Thetford, to lead an amazingly adventurous life and write the three most widely read books in the 18th century (Common Sense, Rights of Man, and the Age of Reason). They had phenominal sales, yet he was always poor because he took no royalties from them. He was probably better known in his lifetime than anyone else across the whole of Europe and North America, and aroused tremendously strong emotions, of loyalty and affection amongst his friends and admirers, and of hostility amongst his enemies and critics. To conclude, this is a very readable and scholarly book about a really interesting person.
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