Common Sense | Review


Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves—and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives—and destroyed them.

Published anonymously in 1776, six months before the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was a radical and impassioned call for America to free itself from British rule and set up an independent republican government.
Savagely attacking hereditary kingship and aristocratic institutions, Paine urged a new beginning for his adopted country in which personal freedom and social equality would be upheld and economic and cultural progress encouraged. 

His pamphlet was the first to speak directly to a mass audience—it went through fifty-six editions within a year of publication—and its assertive and often caustic style both embodied the democratic spirit he advocated, and converted thousands of citizens to the cause of American independence.

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Since Common Sense is extremely short, and because Thomas Paine was fond of including three item lists in his writing, I'm going to review Common Sense in this format. (Okay, it's mostly just because a short review is all I have time for today.)

1. It was really neat reading a book that so many people read and discussed. Colonists sold and read this book. They probably discussed it over a mug of beer and lent it to friends. It would have been interesting to see firsthand how it was received in the eighteenth century.

2. Thomas Paine wasn't a colonist, he was British. But he didn't like the British monarchy. I suppose that's what made him popular in the colonies?

3. It's convincing. Paine is very passionate about his cause.

Overall, Common Sense was an interesting piece of history to read. I like original sources, and it was definitely worthwhile  to read something that was so popular and influential during a pivotal time in US history. I recommend it!


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