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Thomas Paine and the Promise of America

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  138 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Thomas Paine was one of the most remarkable political writers of the modern world and the greatest radical of a radical age. Through writings like Common Sense--and words such as "The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth," "We have it in our power to begin the world over again," and "These are the times that try men's souls"--he not only turned America's colonial r ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 25th 2006 by Hill and Wang (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

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Nanette Bulebosh
I'm on something of a Thomas Paine kick, ever since hearing Kaye's wonderful interview with WPR's Kathleen Dunn a few weeks ago. I've also read Paine books by Christopher Hitchens and John Keane. I tried to read one about Paine's 'Common Sense' by Glenn Beck, but it was so stupid I couldn't read beyond the first few pages. Beck's view is disturbingly skewed. I'm quite certain Mr. Paine, an avowed religious skeptic, would be horrified to learn how his revolutionary treatise has been hijacked for ...more
Thomas Kinsfather
First off, Kaye and I have completely opposite political views. This is one reason I loved this book. Kaye reveals the history and reasoning behind his liberal political views. Half the book is on Paine, the other on the ripple Paine's thoughts left in history. Interesting and thought provoking.
America's revolutionary and progressive traditions are alive and well! Inspiring and informative.
This is well written, riveting, essential history for all citizens of the USA.
The first 1/4 - 1/3 of this book is a biographical sketch of the autodidact Thomas Paine; the remainder of the book is a history of the American movements which were influenced by him -- and there were many.

It is interesting to note that Paine's influence was tremendous within months of his arrival in Philadelphia in 1774; he was adamantly opposed to privilege and rule by elites and so was thoroughly hated by the Adams/Hamilton/Federalist bunch. Within months of Paine's death in 1809, the Feder
Mark miller
Contributing fundamentally to the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the struggles of the British workers in the industrial Revolution, Thomas Paine was one of the most remarkable political writers of the modern world and the greatest radical of a radical age. Paine was America's greatest Revolutionary and it was he who sparked the torch of freedom. Thomas Paine proudly maintained that " America is the only country in the world how to treat religion," for " in America we consider th ...more
Read the first couple of chapters and then put this down.

The author does a nice job of detailing Paine's life and writing and then goes into a terribly long listing of every one who ever thought of or actually mentioned Paine in their writings or words. I really became confused at the purpose served by the last several chapters. If the author wanted to describe how common Paine's ideas are in society he could have done it in a couple of paragraphs, one chapter at most. There was no value in des
Only the first 1/3 of the book was actually about the life and writing of Thomas Paine. The remainder was a history of various liberal, communist and socialist movements and writers in America that cited Paine as a source for their inspiration. I enjoyed the portion that was actually about Paine, but had no interest in any of the rest.
Though there's plenty published about Mr.Paine in a negative light, this author seems to have gone through great pains to bring out the best in the man. And he did! It was a pleasure to read.
The American Conservative
'In a small way, this book attempts to do for the Left what The Conservative Mind did for the Right half a century ago. Back then, nothing seemed so un-American as conservatism, the political philosophy of a Metternich or a Bismarck rather than an Adams or a Madison. Even Sen. Robert A. Taft, “Mr. Republican,” called himself a liberal. Today, tides of political fashion having turned, Harvey Kaye finds himself having to make the case that liberalism is no late transplant to these shores but has r ...more
Gregory Soderberg
This book was part history of Thomas Paine and his times, and part history of how Thomas Paine has been both lauded and condemned throughout American history. Kaye identifies unapologetically with the Left, and so it is interesting to read an overview of American history from that perspective. We are so used to identifying with one side or the other that we forget that our "good guys" are the "bad guys" for the other side.

Kaye did a tremendous amount of research for this book. He seems to have
Oct 22, 2007 Beli_grrl rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: liberal history buffs
This is a good introduction to Tom Paine, but it is not a very thorough bio. The author's intent is to show Paine's influence on progressives through the history of the US rather than to give the reader a detailed bio of Paine or a detailed analysis of his work. I think I would have preferred the detailed analysis and bio. But this was pretty good too. My problem with it is that he gives most of the progressives who were influenced by Paine about 2 paragraphs, so you don't get much detail there ...more
The first half of the book is an excellent history of Painite thought through the course of Thomas Paine's life. The second half reads like a catalog of people on the left who used Paine in their arguments. This second half was like reading a catalog of names, dates and places and lacked the flow and passion of the first half.
Bob Koch
Loved this book. Thom Hartmann recommended it and it reached my expectations for it. The Promise of America. Democracy. WE THE PEOPLE. Rule by the people instead of by the royalty or by the wealthy. It's not easy. It's a revolutionary concept. Was back then. And is same today.
Mar 09, 2009 Amanda marked it as to-read
Thomas Paine is quickly becoming one of my favorite historical figures. His works were absolutely vital to inspiring the independence of our country. It is shocking how little people know about Thomas Paine and unfortunate that his contribution to our country seems to have been forgotten.
Marcus Trimpin
Don't think that this is just another dry historical text. This book is nearly impossible to put down, well and engagingly written. Anyone interested in the intentions of this nation's founders must read this book as well as Paine's writings...without exception.
Alia Aruta
Sep 28, 2007 Alia Aruta rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like history
i knew nothing about thomas paine when i started this book and was blown away by everything he did in his life. this was a decent read - easy to follow and a good start point.
John E
The varied career of a professional, true-blue freedome lover. I just hate the modern radical right trying to steal him from what he really was. Well worth the read.
Thomas Paine just celebrated his 272nd birthday! Will the next 4 years bring a monument for Paine on the Washington Mall? Insightful read.
Craig J.
Thomas Paine and the Promise of America by Harvey J. Kaye (2006)
Rhonda Phillips Matzke
Great book! Local author. Could not put it down.
Nicholas marked it as to-read
Jan 12, 2015
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Jan 06, 2015
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Jan 05, 2015
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“Paine’s texts may be selectively read and variably interpreted, but as much as those on the political right can quote and try to command him, Paine himself was no conservative. He was a radical, a revolutionary democrat. He fought to liberate men and women from the authoritarianism of states, classes, and churches and to empower them to think for and govern themselves.13” 0 likes
“Our Age is retrospective. It builds the sepulchers of the fathers. It writes biographies, histories, and criticism. The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should we not have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs? … The sun shines today also … There are new lands, new men, new thoughts. Let us demand our own works and laws and worship.” 0 likes
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