Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Thomas Paine and the Promise of America” as Want to Read:
Thomas Paine and the Promise of America
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Thomas Paine and the Promise of America

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  198 Ratings  ·  25 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 reb ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 25th 2006 by Hill and Wang (first published 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Thomas Paine and the Promise of America, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Thomas Paine and the Promise of America

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Nanette Bulebosh
Nov 07, 2010 Nanette Bulebosh rated it really liked it
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
Jul 21, 2010 Thomas Kinsfather rated it liked it
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.
Mar 30, 2008 Debocracy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: readit
America's revolutionary and progressive traditions are alive and well! Inspiring and informative.
Jul 10, 2009 Claire rated it it was amazing
This is well written, riveting, essential history for all citizens of the USA.
Linda Callahan
Jun 03, 2017 Linda Callahan rated it liked it
Shelves: history
This book was assigned at my book club. Most enjoyed it; but I was disappointed. I thought it would be more involved in Thomas Paine's life. It does review his life but most of it is about the writings impact on making our countries belief system. After awhile I lost interest.
Mark miller
Aug 05, 2012 Mark miller rated it it was amazing
Shelves: genome, mark
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
Apr 06, 2008 Linda rated it really liked it
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
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
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
Oct 29, 2010 Gregory rated it liked it
Shelves: culture, history
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
Sep 18, 2007 Beli_grrl rated it liked it
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
Nov 02, 2014 Ross rated it it was ok
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.
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.
Marcus Trimpin
Feb 26, 2012 Marcus Trimpin rated it it was amazing
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.
RJ Koch
Dec 20, 2010 RJ Koch rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 04, 2015 Patrick rated it really liked it
Very interesting, very readable account of Paine's work and his legacy. A nice call to action for present-day liberals and would-be American revolutionaries.
Alia Aruta
Sep 28, 2007 Alia Aruta rated it liked it  ·  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.
Rhonda Phillips Matzke
Feb 18, 2013 Rhonda Phillips Matzke rated it it was amazing
Great book! Local author. Could not put it down.
Aug 30, 2014 Frank rated it really liked it
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.
John E
Nov 11, 2009 John E rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 24, 2009 Joy rated it liked it
Thomas Paine just celebrated his 272nd birthday! Will the next 4 years bring a monument for Paine on the Washington Mall? Insightful read.
Joe rated it liked it
Nov 28, 2010
Chang rated it it was amazing
May 13, 2017
Erik Young
Erik Young rated it really liked it
Jan 03, 2015
Adam S. Betz
Adam S. Betz rated it liked it
Dec 10, 2013
Tim Ostroot
Tim Ostroot rated it really liked it
Mar 18, 2015
Nathanael Booth
Nathanael Booth rated it liked it
Jun 26, 2013
John rated it liked it
Aug 05, 2014
Simon Ward
Simon Ward rated it it was amazing
Mar 27, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • To Purge This Land with Blood: A Biography of John Brown
  • All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery
  • Samuel Adams: Father of the American Revolution
  • To Begin the World Anew: The Genius and Ambiguities of the American Founders
  • Eugene V. Debs: Citizen and Socialist
  • Setting the World Ablaze: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and the American Revolution
  • After the Revolution: Profiles of Early American Culture
  • Blood of Tyrants: George Washington & the Forging of the Presidency
  • The Drillmaster of Valley Forge: The Baron de Steuben and the Making of the American Army
  • Lion of Liberty: The Life and Times of Patrick Henry
  • Thomas Paine: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the Birth of Modern Nations
  • The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787
  • John Jay: Founding Father
  • Paul Revere and the World He Lived In
  • Alexander Hamilton
  • Patriotic Treason: John Brown and the Soul of America
  • Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr
  • The Reckless Decade: America in the 1890s

Share This Book

“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
More quotes…