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Common Sense

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  30,143 ratings  ·  1,664 reviews
Published anonymously in 1776, the year of the American Declaration of Independence, Paine's Common Sense became an immediate best-seller, with fifty-six editions printed in that year alone. It was this pamphlet, more than any other factor, which helped to spark off the movement that established the independence of the United States. From his experience of revolutionary po ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published November 25th 1982 by Penguin Classics (first published February 14th 1776)
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Popular Answered Questions
Ann That's why I was excited to pick it up. Unfortunately, you still might get marked as intense or insane for reading it since it isn't common.
Kenya I think there's some difficulty because the verbiage is very different to what we're used to, even with novels like Dickens or Bronte. Some people mig…moreI think there's some difficulty because the verbiage is very different to what we're used to, even with novels like Dickens or Bronte. Some people might also find politics and philosophy like this dry and boring, which it can be depending on how you come at it. Personally, I read it within a few days and really enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to checking out Paine's other works at the local library sometime soon. I'd also like to find a discussion group about this, so let me know if you find anything!(less)

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Angela Blount

"Time makes more converts than reason." – Thomas Paine

And with that early quote, this reader steadily became enthralled with a founding father. I sincerely wish this novella-sized essay had been required reading while I was still in high school—or at any point in my education, for that matter.

(Okay, if I'm being honest, my teenage self wanted history explained something like this...)



But seriously... the read I thought was going to be a necessary slog turned out to be not only insightful, but
...more
Mia
Dec 29, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
NO. NO. NO. NOOOOO. NOPE.



DRY. DRIER THAN AN ANCIENT RAISIN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ATACAMA DESERT*. DRY AND BORING AS FUCK.


*Driest desert in the world, located in South America just West of the Andes. Average of 0.6 inches (15 mm) rainfall per year. Extremely arid and lifeless. Just like this essay.
...more
Kevin Shepherd
“A pamphlet called ‘Commonsense’ makes a great noise. One of the vilest things that ever was published to the world. Full of false representations, lies, calumny, and treason, whose principles are to subvert all Kingly Governments and erect an Independent Republic.” ~Nicholas Cresswell

One could argue that without Thomas Paine’s ‘Common Sense’ of January 1776, there would be no American Declaration of Independence of July 1776. True there was discontent and animosity between England and Colonial
...more
Iris P

In observance of Independence Day I decided to read something to help me widen my knowledge on the history of the American Revolution.

Common Sense is 48 page pamphlet written by Thomas Paine, but published anonymously in January 10, 1776. The document which was published right at the beginning of the American Revolution argues in favor of America's independence from Great Britain.

Paine, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, was born in England. He was a political activist, philosophe
...more
Michael O'Brien
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most important works from any writer during the American War for Independence. During the darkest days of the struggle, Gen. George Washington reportedly had Paine's work read to his troops to inspire them to hold on during the months of squalor, danger, cold, and deprivation. I dare say that Paine's works like this one led to America's ultimate victory over the Empire seeking its reconquest.
P.E.
Coming of Age

This pamphlet written by Thomas Paine in 1775–1776 makes a case for the independence of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain. Taking into consideration examples drawn from antiquity, medieval England, and recent history, written in plain style and distributed widely, it was tailored to appeal to the largest numbers.


Join, or Die - Benjamin Franklin, 1754


Some excerpts:

'Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; w
...more
Stephen
4.5 stars. Scathing, derogatory rhetoric directed at the King of England in particular and the British in general designed to arouse the "passions" of the American colonists to embrace the idea of independence from Britian. From that standpoint, very few books in history have been as successful in achieving its goal. Almost 250 years later, this short book (better described as a long essay), still has the power to move you and make you feel the passion of the writer for his subject matter. A tru ...more
Sara
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I feel a bit ashamed that this is the first time that I have read Common Sense in its entirety. It is a piece of American history that deserves our attention and respect. It is easy to see why it affected people of its time in the way that it did, as it is clearly and simply written and sets forth in undeniable logic the issues in question at the time.

Masterfully titled, Paine’s points do indeed seem to be common sense. I was particularly struck by his deft destruction of the divine right of ki
...more
Els
That was a wonderful ride.

And yes, I tried to resist using this gif. (especially since the line itself isn't historically accurate- Thomas Paine published his world-changing pamphlet anonymously.) Desperately. But I couldn't help it.


"a corset maker by trade, a journalist by profession, and a propagandist by inclination!"



Doesn't he just look like the sort who would spin around in his non-existent swivel chair, arms in the air, squealing "BUUURRRRRNNNNN!!!!!" wheneve
...more
Paula W
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most Americans have at least a general knowledge of the events that sparked the American Revolution. Long story short (and super simplified) — British Parliament passed the Tea Act in mid 1773 allowing a British tea company to sell basically untaxed tea from China in the colonies while the colonists were still being taxed and therefore forced to sell higher priced tea. This set off an intense debate about the colonists being taxed without representation, culminating in the Boston Tea Party. As p ...more
Daniel
Feb 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-classics
Something everyone should read, study and learn to understand. This pamphlet made a new world. We need such men to stand and inspire us to do the same once again.
Moonkiszt
Having never read this oft-mentioned founding document, I dove in.

It took awhile to acclimatize, to the language, to gather facts and fictions about the era and population Thomas Paine addresses in his famous work, but I got the gist of it. I found inspiration and wisdom in it. I recognized so many phrases and sentiments that rang true, although I am not of his time. It is clear I have been carefully taught these things my entire life. That stuns me, a little, waving in my free brain thoughts ta
...more
Yara (The Narratologist)
I’ve been reading “Common Sense” by Thomas Paine
So men say that I’m intense or I’m insane
You want a revolution? I want a revelation!
So listen to my declaration:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident
that all men are created equal,”
And when I meet Thomas Jefferson
Imma compel him to include women in the sequel!
Work!


Yes, I did pick up this pamphlet because I am obsessed with the musical Hamilton (what can I say, I can relate to men thinking that you're intense and/or insane), and I am so
...more
Kimber
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Still rings true.....
"This is our situation, and who will know it. By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue;by cowardice and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils-a ravaged country-a depopulated city-habitations without safety, and slavery without hope."

R.I.P to one of our great Americans, Thomas Paine.
Jan Priddy
Jul 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the booklet that pushed us to become a free country. "In proportion to the population of the colonies at that time (2.5 million), it had the largest sale and circulation of any book published in American history." I read it in Honors Sophomore World History almost forty years ago, but no one seems to teach it anymore. Except I do.

"When Abraham Lincoln was 26 years old in 1835, he wrote a defense of Paine's deism; a political associate, Samuel Hill, burned it to save Lincoln's political
...more
M.C.
Dec 28, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-2009
Known to some as a precursor to the Declaration of Independence, Common Sense by Thomas Paine may actually serve as evidence of the blinding effects of fervent patriotism.

Paine masterly grasped the attention of the reader by questioning about the origin of government to stir the desire to question about the evolution of government over time--how government has, over the course of centuries, became what it is. The choice to begin the text with regards to the origin and progress from hence is als
...more
David
Jul 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Revolutionaries, Anti-monarchists, not Quakers
Like most Americans, I've read the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, but maybe not all of it recently, and not much of the actual writings of the founding fathers. So this Audible daily deal seemed like a good thing to add to my commute.

Thomas Paine's famous polemic is a quick and easy listen, because that's how he intended it to be - indeed, it was read throughout the colonies, in inns and taverns and meeting houses, to a population that was well-educated fo
...more
Jonfaith
One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in kings, is, that nature disapproves it, otherwise, she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule by giving mankind an ass for a lion.

Unfortunate that the knee-jerk Right has appropriated this polished wit. I can't see how is reconciles with the specks of froth about emails and birth certificates. Baggage eschewed, this remains a powerful pamphlet, a catalyst for defiance. Not as convincing as J.S. Mill, but one rife with
...more
Michael
Sep 28, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: politicians and journalists
Recommended to Michael by: my own ignorance
Yes, this is a piece of history and should be read by everyone interested in politics. It asks the question; "should we seek Reconciliation with England or Independence from her." Thomas Paine said it was only common sense to break with the King. It was common sense to establish a representative government and not serve a King. It was common sense to limit the terms politicians can serve, because it is best not to allow a person to get established as a career politician, as he would then serve h ...more
Jean
I read this essay in school many years ago; I have read several books recently that have referred the Pane’s “Common Sense”. So, I thought I would re-read and refresh my memory about the book.

“Common Sense” was published in 1776 and challenged the authority of the British government and monarchy. It was written in plain language for the common person to easily read. It was the first published works to openly ask for independence from Great Britain. Pane says that government’s sole purpose is to
...more
Kathleen
“Revolution is our inherent character, and courage has never yet forsaken us.”

This reads like the tract it is, and while I enjoyed the introduction more than the work itself, it is important and in places, inspiring. People needed to be brought around to see the efficacy, the inevitability of American independence. Because revolution is scary.

He made some laudable points, important to continue to reflect upon.

“Of more worth is one honest man to society, and in the sight of God, than all the crow
...more
Vaishali
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
Published Valentine's Day, 1776 ! The one essay in Revolutionary America plumbing subjects as vast as Jewish history, moral laziness, and naval ship data. Theorizes that monarchies were born when ancient man wooed the group bully with gifts. Lucid, sarcastic... and a national treasure.

Phenomenal quotes:
---------------

“Time makes more converts than reason.”

“Were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other law-giver.”

“Nothing but heaven is impregnab
...more
Bob
What a great way to start the year!

This is a piece of history that I have heard of, but never read, nor did I know how important a role it played in the shaping of the minds of colonial Americans, during a time when a decision needed to be made about the future of America. Reconciliation or Independence was the issue and Thomas Paine was steadfastly in favor of Independence.

Common Sense is called a pamphlet, somehow that title just doesn’t seem important enough, to describe the passion, power,
...more
Marisa
"instead of gazing at each other with suspicious or doubtful curiousity, let each of us, hold out to his neighbor the hearty hand of friendship, and unite in drawing a line, which, like an act of oblivion shall bury in forgetfulness every former dissention."

Had an odd craving for some Thomas Paine and I'm really glad I went with it. Common Sense is at once philosophical, burning with passion, and insanely quotable. Definitely interesting to read in 2017.
Patrick Peterson
14 Feb. 2018
I read this in college in the mid-70s - excellent, and also listened to the audio book version a few years ago.

Great little statement about why tyranny must be stopped.
Lots of fascinating English and Roman history that will probably be new to modern readers, yet is very important for understanding how the United States came to be.
Lauren
Thomas Paine’s book, Common Sense, sparked revolutionary thoughts and supported revolutionary ideas for the colonists in America in the late 1700s. Paine’s idea was to get the masses of people to revolt against British rule and he outlined reasons why this would be the best course to take. Common Sense really helped to promote revolutionary thoughts and was a great influence to many of the colonial people because he wrote it in a language that everyone could understand and relate to. He focused ...more
The Duke
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I guess the Olympics made me feel a little patriotic, so I opened my American Flag bookshelf and pulled this out from its nest between the Federalist Papers and the complete collection of Abraham Lincoln Speeches.

For one, my most unpatriotic reason for reading this book: I am behind on my reading goal for the year and this was an incredibly short book. Seriously, it's barely 100 pages and you can still brag to professors about reading it.

Anyway, why it's important. Well, it was written during
...more
Corinne Edwards
I'm a little bit of a fan of the musical Hamilton. In one song, the future sister-in-law of Alexander Hamilton sings, "I've been reading Common Sense by Thomas Paine, so men say that I'm intense or I'm insane." That particular line gets stuck in my head a lot and I finally thought - I should read the dang thing myself!!

Common Sense is a "pamphlet" that Thomas Paine wrote in an attempt to justify and defend the cause of independence from England. His thoughtful, logical arguments approach the pro
...more
Tamara
Aug 11, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
At the risk of being labeled a communist (or worse), I did not like this at all. If this was the prevailing thought that our country was based on, it explains a lot.
Where I agree on the idiocy of the birthright/divine right of sovereigns, it's equally absurd to read about the equality of man and the importance of freedom of religion when that equality apparently only applied to white men and the only for differing denominations of christianity. Not much different than the GOP platform/manifesto
...more
Darwin8u
Nov 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Rarely has a political tract been more popular, influential, or its writer more eloquent. I love the idea of it selling 500,000 copies in a land of 2,000,000 free inhabitants. Both its political influence and its direct influence on the founding of our nation is telling. Paine not only galvanized many in the colonies into action, he donated all the money from this tract to Washington's army. A great piece to read on Thanksgiving.
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Thomas Paine was an English-American political activist, author, political theorist and revolutionary. As the author of two highly influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution, he inspired the Patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Britain. His ideas reflected Enlightenment-era rhetoric of transnational human rights. He has been called "a corset maker by trade, a journalist ...more

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