This exploration of Thomas Paine and his passionate writings in support of liberty provides insight into a turbulent period of change in the United States, England and France.
Paine left 18th-century England with a letter of introduction from Benjamin
Franklin and Philadelphia as his destination. Before long, Paine had a job as
an editor of the Pennsylvania Magazine, and his life as a passionate writer of ideals was
launched. Turning his initial focus from abolition to independence, Paine wrote
Common Sense, the pamphlet that would make him a sensation and change the
face of political writing. “He wrote for the common people, those like him. To
influence them, he had to grab their attention by appealing to their
intelligence and to their emotions.” After supporting American
independence, Paine turned his attention to the French Revolution, publishing The
Rights of Man and landing himself in prison. Upon release, he began work on
another controversial treatise, The Age of Reason, in which he criticized
organized religion, especially Christianity. In a clear, straightforward
narrative illustrated with archival images, Marrin provides the necessary
context for readers to appreciate Paine’s impact and the role he has played in
the concept of “American exceptionalism.” While it deliberately focuses on his
ideas, there is still a clear picture of the man behind them.
A valuable aid in understanding a historical
period that continues to resonate. (notes, further reading, index) (Nonfiction.