Thomas Paine Crusader for Liberty (Knopf, 2014)
Thomas Paine Crusader for Liberty: How One Man's Ideas Helped Form a New Nation
From National Book Award finalist Albert Marrin comes a compelling look at the life and impact of Thomas Paine and the profound power of ideas.
Uneducated as a boy, Thomas Paine grew up to become one of the most influential writers of the 18th century. He brought the world Common Sense, Rights of Man, and The Age of Reason; simply written, verbal battles against political, civil, and religious ignorance.
Dubbed 'The Father of the American Revolution', Paine began his written reign by fervently proposing the idea of American independence from Great Britain, where he lived before emigrating to the United States in his thirties. As one historical event led to another, Paine continued to divulge his ideas to the public, risking his reputation and even his life. Award-winning author Albert Marrin illustrates the hardships and significance of a man's beliefs and its effects on our nation in a way that all ages can comprehend.
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.
Thomas 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. 10-16)
Celebrated author Marrin elevates Thomas Paine from a one-sentence description in a history textbook into a fully realized person: son of a Quaker corset maker and possessor of a sharp memory, a charitable spirit, and an unflinching devotion to causes of liberty. Marrin opens with a brief description of the Enlightenment, followed by a look at Paine's youth and his immigration to America. The majority of the text, however, deals with his rubbing elbows with other founding fathers, reflecting on important events in the American colonies, and generating wildly popular propaganda for the cause of independence. Marrin also explains the far-reaching effects of Paine's writings, recounting how he was nearly beheaded during the Reign of Terror in revolutionary France and how his writings were publicly burned in England. Well illustrated, carefully researched, and drawn heavily from Paine's own works, this work is a straightforward biography of a figure rarely taught to kids, but it also celebrates the power of words and how ideas can change the world.