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Thomas Paine was the first international revolutionary. His Common Sense (1776) was the most widely read pamphlet of the American Revolution and his Rights of Man (1791-2), the most famous defense of the French Revolution, sent out a clarion call for revolution throughout the world. Paine paid the price for his principles: he was outlawed in Britain, narrowly escaped execu Thomas Paine was the first international revolutionary. His Common Sense (1776) was the most widely read pamphlet of the American Revolution and his Rights of Man (1791-2), the most famous defense of the French Revolution, sent out a clarion call for revolution throughout the world. Paine paid the price for his principles: he was outlawed in Britain, narrowly escaped execution in France, and was vilified as an atheist and a Jacobin on his return to America. This new edition contains the complete texts of both Rights of Man and Common Sense, as well as six other powerfully political writings - American Crisis I, American Crisis XIII, Agrarian Justice, Letter to Jefferson, Letter Addressed to the Addressers on the Late Proclamation and Dissertation on the First Principles of Government - all of which illustrate why Paine's ideas still resonate in the modern welfare states of today.


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Thomas Paine was the first international revolutionary. His Common Sense (1776) was the most widely read pamphlet of the American Revolution and his Rights of Man (1791-2), the most famous defense of the French Revolution, sent out a clarion call for revolution throughout the world. Paine paid the price for his principles: he was outlawed in Britain, narrowly escaped execu Thomas Paine was the first international revolutionary. His Common Sense (1776) was the most widely read pamphlet of the American Revolution and his Rights of Man (1791-2), the most famous defense of the French Revolution, sent out a clarion call for revolution throughout the world. Paine paid the price for his principles: he was outlawed in Britain, narrowly escaped execution in France, and was vilified as an atheist and a Jacobin on his return to America. This new edition contains the complete texts of both Rights of Man and Common Sense, as well as six other powerfully political writings - American Crisis I, American Crisis XIII, Agrarian Justice, Letter to Jefferson, Letter Addressed to the Addressers on the Late Proclamation and Dissertation on the First Principles of Government - all of which illustrate why Paine's ideas still resonate in the modern welfare states of today.

30 review for Rights of Man, Common Sense and Other Political Writings

  1. 4 out of 5

    E. G.

    Acknowledgements Introduction Note on the Texts Select Bibliography A Chronology of Thomas Paine --Common Sense --American Crisis I --American Crisis XIII --Letter to Jefferson --Rights of Man --Rights of Man Part the Second --Letter Addressed to the Addressers, on the Late Proclamation --Dissertation on the First Principles of Government --Agrarian Justice Abbreviations Explanatory Notes Index

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sean Blake

    If there's anything I like that's related to politics, it's political activism, and that's where Thomas Paine comes in. Each sentence seems to come straight from his emotionally charged heart, in his quest for political freedom. Anyway, I read this great political pamphlet while on a train from Gaillac to Toulouse in the south of France. I need to read it again, but I do remember his interesting observations focusing on monarchy and the distinction between society and government. If there's anything I like that's related to politics, it's political activism, and that's where Thomas Paine comes in. Each sentence seems to come straight from his emotionally charged heart, in his quest for political freedom. Anyway, I read this great political pamphlet while on a train from Gaillac to Toulouse in the south of France. I need to read it again, but I do remember his interesting observations focusing on monarchy and the distinction between society and government.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Clare

    Somehow over the last couple weeks I got myself into reading the Oxford World Classics edition of Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man, Common Sense, and Other Political Writings. It started when I decided that I had to read “Agrarian Justice” for the same stupid DSA presentation that I made myself read four other books for. “Agrarian Justice” is only 40 pages, out of a nearly 500-page book, so I could have left it there. But then I went back to the beginning to read “Common Sense,” and then I felt li Somehow over the last couple weeks I got myself into reading the Oxford World Classics edition of Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man, Common Sense, and Other Political Writings. It started when I decided that I had to read “Agrarian Justice” for the same stupid DSA presentation that I made myself read four other books for. “Agrarian Justice” is only 40 pages, out of a nearly 500-page book, so I could have left it there. But then I went back to the beginning to read “Common Sense,” and then I felt like I had already spent enough time reading that I should read the whole book so I could count it as A Book for my Goodreads. So then I had to read all 500 pages, at which point, it promptly began to feel like a chore instead of a fun thing. I’ve also now read like six political nonfiction books in a row and I really should have read something fun instead because now I’m looking at having less than four weeks to also read the 500-page Naomi Klein book on climate change that I suggested and I feel like I’m going to cry. HELP I NEED A BREAK. I’m at MurderBooze and I can’t make myself write and I can’t make myself do anything and I still managed to make myself finish this book and I don’t even feel good about it even though it’s the only thing on my enormous to-do list I have done all weekend. I didn’t even make breakfast this morning like I signed up to do. Anyway, this is supposed to be a book review and not a chronicle of my current emotional breakdown, so here goes. ::stares at wall:: Honestly, as far as 18th-century political treatises go, most of it’s quite readable. There’s a lot of stuff about specific tax policies and naval resources and whatnot where the specifics are quite dated, and I skipped over most of the tables of proposed revenues and expenditures that he puts forth because it’s more than 200 years later and I do not care, but there are a lot of jokes at the expense of conservatives at the time that are still mildly amusing. “Common Sense” is still pretty stirring and contains a lot more in the way of actual arguments put forth than anything that’s ever had the phrase “common sense” appended to it in the intervening 250-odd years; either Paine is a very singular writer or the phrase had not yet acquired the meaning of “I adamantly refuse to put forth an argument for my beliefs” that it currently has. One interesting argument that Paine puts forth in that one is that the 13 colonies together constituted a country that was, like, the proper size to have a revolution, because if it were much larger it would be ungovernably large and it would be basically too hard for it to make functional decisions. I think he might have been on to something. “Rights of Man” had some interesting stuff about, well, the rights of man, but most of it actually consisted of either insulting Edmund Burke or proposing tax policies. The dunking on Burke was quite satisfying but the tax policies were less fun than the ones put forth in “Agrarian Justice,” which, although it was the last piece in the book, was the one I read first. “Rights of Man” takes up about half the book, and unfortunately was for me the least interesting to read. There are some short works, including two of the “American Crisis” installments and an interesting piece called “Letter Addressed to the Addressers,” which seems to concern Paine’s libel case that resulted in “Rights of Man” being banned in England. “Agrarian Justice” is the piece I got the most out of, though, and I do think I could well have just read that one. In it, Paine puts forth not just a plan for Social Security that would only be implemented 150 years later, but he also puts forth a plan to give everyone a lump sum payout upon reaching the age of majority so they could establish themselves within civilization. This does seem to me to be a smarter economic move than ensuring that everyone reaches the age of majority one year’s salary in debt in order to establish themselves, but I digress. Paine also puts forth a thought-provoking political theory that the earth is everyone’s natural heritage, and that the system of landed capital therefore robs everyone who isn’t a landowner out of their natural inheritance, and that landowners should pay a “ground-rent” as reparations to everyone else, to manage the difference between the value added to the land by the labor of cultivating it, and the value of the land that occurs because the land exists without anyone creating it. Much ink has been spilled recently about how the guys behind the American Revolution were largely rich white dudes who didn’t want to pay their taxes, and this is in large part true, but I think it’s worth reminding ourselves that that’s not all there was to it and there really was a lot of new thought and revolutionary ideals that went into the American and French revolutions. Paine in particular was not a rich landowner or a fancy lawyer, and who was willing to go out and get into all sorts of trouble for his beliefs, including a yearlong stint in a Luxembourg prison and getting personally banned from France. His writings are a fascinating look into an early form of left-liberalism that the conservatives who try to cast him as some sort of right-libertarian (probably because they want to be able to yell “It’s just common sense!” instead of defending their arguments) would likely be horrified to find if they ever read any of his stuff besides the first two lines of “American Crisis 1.” Anyway, the important thing here is that now I can finally give the damn book back to the library. Hurrah! Originally posted at Some men say that I'm intense or I'm insane.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Jacobs

    5 stars for Rights of Man and Common Sense. Think it would have been a better editorial decision to choose Age of Reason (if perhaps not strictly political) and some other volumes of American Crisis rather than certain other choices. As it stands, American Crisis is represented patchily and rather than being a great addition to any collection this edition is meant to be some kind of crash-course of Paine's political philosophy. 5 stars for Rights of Man and Common Sense. Think it would have been a better editorial decision to choose Age of Reason (if perhaps not strictly political) and some other volumes of American Crisis rather than certain other choices. As it stands, American Crisis is represented patchily and rather than being a great addition to any collection this edition is meant to be some kind of crash-course of Paine's political philosophy.

  5. 4 out of 5

    latner3

    Gave it a go.I thought the writing was great. I just got a bit bored.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ken Ryu

    Thomas Paine was a true radical. He was angry and combative. As one of the key voices for the American and French Revolution, his angst towards monarchies and hereditary privileges coincided with the zeitgeist calling for meritocracy and human rights. Paine attacks opponents with vigor and the intensity of a fiery trial lawyer. His key argument against monarchies is the flaw of the hereditary succession problem. Even if a nation is fortunate to be lead by a enlightened and noble ruler, there is no Thomas Paine was a true radical. He was angry and combative. As one of the key voices for the American and French Revolution, his angst towards monarchies and hereditary privileges coincided with the zeitgeist calling for meritocracy and human rights. Paine attacks opponents with vigor and the intensity of a fiery trial lawyer. His key argument against monarchies is the flaw of the hereditary succession problem. Even if a nation is fortunate to be lead by a enlightened and noble ruler, there is no guarantee that his offspring will be likewise gifted and well-intentioned. He mocks the system that allows a child of 18 to lead a great nation. Worse in his mind is when an adolescent is made king or queen and a regent rules in their stead. He points out the massive tax burden that is relegated to the king or queen while millions of English suffer in poverty. He rages against the lack of representation of the masses who are forced to pay arbitrary taxes foisted on them by the small aristocracy. In "Common Sense", which came out in 1776, he calls for a powerful revolt against British rule and pleads with his readers to support the American movement towards independence. In "Rights of Man", which was written in 2-3 parts throughout the French Revolution, Paine defends the overthrow of King Louis XVI. Although he appreciated King Louis XVI support of the Americans in their struggle towards independence and believes him to be a good man, he backs the French people's right to rid themselves of the office of the king. He points to the United States a success story. He shows that the US proves that a meritocratic country with representation for all works. In America, the taxes are lower, the opportunities for all are unlimited, and the unity of the people, despite their many foreign heritages, is strong. He calls for a halt to the ego-driven wars between the US, Britain and France so each country can conduct fluid trade and reduce the cost burden of maintaining large a military and navy. He takes time to draw figures showing how a reduced military can reduce taxes while providing financial support of education and support of the poor and elderly. He also articulates a plan for a progressive tax policy so that hard-working families can live more comfortably instead of the crushing taxes that the current British monarchy and aristocracy enforces. Paine was a friend of Jefferson. You can see how Paine's views map closely to Jeffersonian ideals. Paine's radical nature would eventually cost him. He was vilified in England, jailed in France, and abandoned by the US. Jefferson could create consensus and delight those with his enlightened views. Paine lacked tack. He genius was inciting outrage and creating an us against them mentality. Paine spends many pages in describing technical instructions for land ownership, taxes, military expenses, and constitutional structure. He also mentions many topical events and people. This makes the documents difficult to follow and anachronistic. Paine was more concerned about creating immediate change and action, and less so about the posterity of his writings. The fact that Paine is still being read despite the issues with the writing is a tribute to his impact and historical significance. I was expecting a more poetical and idealistic document, especially with "Common Sense". I was surprised to discover a manifesto calling for an immediate end to British rule in America.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Wouter

    Having finished Paine's Rights of Man, &c I can't really recommend it. Common sense is great. It captures the moment before the American war of independence, it's arguments (against colonialism c.q. oppression) stand the test of time. It makes you ready. Ready to fight the British usurper and conquer the independence that should be yours. Rights of Man (part the first and part the second) should do the same for the French revolution. The moments where Rights of Man captures the day to day events Having finished Paine's Rights of Man, &c I can't really recommend it. Common sense is great. It captures the moment before the American war of independence, it's arguments (against colonialism c.q. oppression) stand the test of time. It makes you ready. Ready to fight the British usurper and conquer the independence that should be yours. Rights of Man (part the first and part the second) should do the same for the French revolution. The moments where Rights of Man captures the day to day events of the revolution, it's reasons for becoming and the declaration of the Rights themselves, are great. For the most part, however, it is a diatribe against Mr. Burke, Mr. Pitt & Mr. Fox and a attempt at showing that representative governance is superior to monarchy. And, obviously, this is true. Easily said over 200 years later. But the result is that I am more inclined to think Mr. Burke an asshole than I am inclined to revolt, which is a shame. The Other Political Writings are a couple of letters, a dissertation (which pretty much copies parts of the Rights of Man) and one of the earliest formulations of a basic income that I've come across. However, given that Common Sense is about 50 pages long and the total length of this book is 400 (that's just 12.5% of effective/informative/interesting page-use, given all the calculations and tables across the book it really should be a lot higher). I can't recommend Rights of Man, &c, just read Common Sense from another source.

  8. 5 out of 5

    D. Parker Samelson

    Well written and articulate argument. I actually disagree with many points raised in the book. It’s clear Paine was biased in favor of the radical revolution in France rather than the stable and traditional society in England. I think the western world would be in a much better place if it had followed the British model rather than the French.

  9. 4 out of 5

    MichaelK

    Tom Paine was a cool guy, way ahead of his time.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Paschalis

    elibrary

  11. 5 out of 5

    Iain

    Excellent. Still true today that the power of the English form of government is set up on corrupt principles. As Paine says the Monarchy claim a right to rule and to their property based on a posterity with its roots in banditry.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Val

    This is a collection of short political essays. They are written in very clear concise English for the time of publication. Highly recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Miss

    simply it calls for reason and commom sense

  14. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    I only read "Common Sense" and the "American Crisis" selections. Might tackle "Rights of Man" in the future. Needless to say, Paine was ahead of his time. I only read "Common Sense" and the "American Crisis" selections. Might tackle "Rights of Man" in the future. Needless to say, Paine was ahead of his time.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lily

    interesting to read

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gary

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joe

  18. 4 out of 5

    John P.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mohsenfahmy Moussa

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dylan Vieites Glennon

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bobby

  22. 5 out of 5

    shattershok987

  23. 5 out of 5

    Benoit Kneeled

  24. 4 out of 5

    Robin

  25. 4 out of 5

    Yuri

  26. 4 out of 5

    Matt Minton

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Perry

  28. 5 out of 5

    Whmartin

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sara

  30. 4 out of 5

    David

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