All of Paine's masterpieces are included here: The Rights of Man, a magnificent defence of the French Revolution against Edmund Burke and, according to A.J.P. Taylor, "the best statement of the democratic belief in any language"; Common Sense, whose "sound doctrine and unanswerable reasoning" won thousands to the side of the American rebels; and The Age of Reason, a notoriously fierce attack on traditional Christianity. Paine's extraordinary versatility and power are equally obvious in his shorter but deeply influential occasional writings - on the abolition of slavery and capital punishment, on constitutional and agarian reform, on George Washington, bridge-building and many more other topics.
This major collection demonstrates the extent to which Thomas Paine (1737-1809) was an inspiration to the Americans in their struggle for independence, a passionate supporter of the French Revolution and perhaps the outstanding English radical writer of his age. It contains all of Paine's major works including The Rights of Man, his groundbreaking defence of the revolutionary cause in France, Common Sense, which won thousands over to the side of the American rebels, and the first part of The Age of Reason (Part One), a ferocious attack on Christianity. The shorter pieces - on capital punishment, social reform and the abolition of slavery - also confirm the great versatility and power of this master of democratic prose.
Thomas Paine was born in 1737, and emigrated to America in 1774 at the persuasion of Benjamin Franklin. In 1776 he published the influential Common Sense, which established his reputation as a revolutionary thinker and as political theorist for the American Revolution. In 1787 Paine returned to Europe and became involved in Revolutionary politics. He was imprisoned in France and nearly executed. In 1802 he returned to America where he lived in poverty until his death in 1809. Michael Foot was born in 1913 and read PPE at Oxford. He was Editor of hte Evening Standard and of Tribune. He was elected to Parliament as a Labour MP in 1945 and became Labour Party leader in 1980, until his resignation in 1983. He retired from parliament in 1992. Isaac Kramnick was born in 1938 and educated at Harvard. He is currently Professor of Government at Cornell University. He has edited Godwin, Madison and Thomas Paine for Penguin Classics.
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