This is the first work of history to place Thomas Paine firmly in the heady period of intellectual excitement and political turmoil in which he lived. Drawing on the best of recent scholarship, this richly drawn biography traces the many twists and turns of Paine's life.This is the first work of history to place Thomas Paine firmly in the heady period of intellectual excitement and political turmoil in which he lived. Drawing on the best of recent scholarship, this richly drawn biography traces the many twists and turns of Paine's life.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 2006-07-24 Enlightenment thinker Thomas Paine would be pleased with this brisk, intellectually sophisticated study of his life. Nelson (The First Heroes) breezes through Paine's first 37 years, his attention tuned to 1774, when Paine moved from England to Philadelphia, bearing glowing letters of introduction from Benjamin Franklin. It was there that "his real life story would begin" with the writing of the hugely influential Common Sense, which attacked the divine right of kings and advocated American independence. Nelson follows Paine as he heads to Europe in 1787, and charts Paine's ambiguous relationship with the French Revolution. During the Reign of Terror, Paine got to work on The Age of Reason, and Nelson insists that, though his subject has been called an atheist, this work advocated 18th-century deism and was right in step with "mainstream Anglo-American religious discourse" of the era. Nelson concludes with a brief, intriguing discussion of Paine's legacy in the United States. The descriptions of Paine birthday galas in New York and Philadelphia 20 years after his 1809 death are fascinating in fact, an entire chapter could have been devoted to Paine's influence in the Jacksonian era. This volume won't replace Eric Foner's classic Tom Paine and Revolutionary America, but it's a welcome addition. (Sept. 25) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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