TOM PAINE, REVOLUTIONARY by Olivia Coolidge
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TOM PAINE, REVOLUTIONARY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Paine as popularizer and propagandist, eloquent and tenacious, with a ""naive vanity,"" a sense for what was vital, and human failings which--next to such humanitarian principles--made him look a little ""ridiculous."" Finely discriminating between the man and the malice of his contemporaries, this is easily superior to the other biographies available--without Fast's fictionalizations or Gurko's quick categorizing, more exacting than O'Connor's less provocative account. The teeter-totter of his life is ably represented: starting again--""for the tenth time""--at 37; chronic financial difficulties; the not-niceties of the Deane affair; abruptly ended associations with Washington and others; uneven habits intensified under stress; the ultimate insult and irony--denial of U.S. citizenship. Mrs. Coolidge goes beyond the standard juvenile format into the beginnings of intellectual history: comparing Paine to Marx, another revolutionary writer (and more rigorous thinker) unable to direct the efforts of his adherents; contrasting Paine with Burke, The Rights of Man vis a vis Reflections on the French Revolution.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1969
Publisher: Scribners