Common Sense

Common Sense

4.1 88
by Thomas Paine

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Thomas Paine's Common Sense first appeared on January 10, 1776, and the stroke of luck it enjoyed upon its appearance could hardly have been calculated to greater effect. The political tract immediately became the moral and intellectual touchstone for American colonists struggling to articulate their case for independence from England. It sold over 120,000


Thomas Paine's Common Sense first appeared on January 10, 1776, and the stroke of luck it enjoyed upon its appearance could hardly have been calculated to greater effect. The political tract immediately became the moral and intellectual touchstone for American colonists struggling to articulate their case for independence from England. It sold over 120,000 copies within three months of its publication.

The United States of America owes its existence in part to the incendiary brilliance of the work. Common Sense challenged the authority of the British government and the royal monarchy and was the first document to openly ask for independence.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Penguin strikes again with a wonderful new series called "Great Ideas" featuring 12 books by great thinkers dating back to the first millennium B.C.E. through the mid-20th century, covering art, politics, literature, philosophy, science, history, and more. Each slim paperback is individually designed, and all are affordable at $8.95. A great idea indeed. Snap 'em up! Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"No writer has exceeded Paine in ease and familiarity of style, in perspicuity of expression, happiness of elucidation, and in simple and unassuming language." -Thomas Jefferson

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Penguin Great Ideas Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.40(w) x 7.09(h) x 0.29(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Of the Origin and Design of Government in General. With Concise Remarks on the English Constitution

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamities are heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least.

Meet the Author

Thomas Paine was born in Norfolk, England, on January 29, 1737. He received a basic education in history, mathematics, and science, but left school at age 13 to apprentice in his father's corsetmaking shop. In 1757, he spent time at sea aboard the privateer ship King of Prussia, and later found employment as a journeyman staymaker in London. All the while, Paine continued to study on his own, influenced by the work of two leading figures of the Enlightenment, Isaac Newton and John Locke. He began writing political pamphlets, and at the urging of Benjamin Franklin, emigrated to Philadelphia in 1774 to work as an editor for The Pennsylvania Magazine. In 1776, he published Common Sense, which called for America's political freedom from England. The pamphlet sold more than 150,000 copies in three months. Paine next published The American Crisis during the Revolutionary War, inspiring George Washington to read it to his troops at Valley Forge. By the end of the Revolution, however, Paine's influence had run its course, and he fell out of political favor. He returned to Europe, where he published his treatise Rights of Man, which led to his arrest on charges of high treason. Disillusioned with life abroad, he returned to the U.S. to find himself vilifed as an agitator and atheist. He died in obscurity in New York City in 1809.

Diana Gabaldon is the New York Times bestselling author of five previous novels -- Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager,
Drums of Autumn, and The Fiery Cross -- and one work of nonfiction, The Outlandish Companion. She lives with her family in
Scottsdale, Arizona.

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Common Sense (Illustrated + FREE audiobook link + Active TOC) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 88 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I find the book itself to be an interesting historical read. What I do not like is how the introduction is written with the author's opinion which is 26 pages long. I think this is far too long and can sway how the reader takes some of what Thomas Paine means in his writting. If a company wants to reprint a book, it should be printed the way it was originally printed. If someone wants to add an introduction, it should not be telling what the writter means politically, or otherwise. Keep your political/cultural opinions to yourself.
Kei More than 1 year ago
Every library must contain this book. This is a must read for anyone High School age or older to understand the freedoms each American Citizen is supposed to have today, and why it is his duty to pass them along to succeeding generations.
CindylouDP More than 1 year ago
This should be required reading for all HS students.It's not a fast read but one of the most important. We will see what our founders wanted - a true Republic-the power belongs to the people NOT the government.Are we now giving up our power to the government?
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the finest works ever penned. With the eloquence of Shakespeare and the fury of a firebrand preacher, Paine rails against tyranny and monarchy while espousing the virtues of freedom, independence and representative government. Written in January of 1776 at the onset of the Revolutionary War, Common Sense brought to print with naked prejudice the unspoken sentiment that America's day had come and independence was her rightful state. Highly recommended for those eager to learn more about America's heritage and founding ideals.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Where have all the great people gone. Thomas Paines Common Sense is still relevant today, every one should read it. I will be reading all his other books.
BrownieGA More than 1 year ago
These are the words that set US apart from all other nations! It should be read, and if already read, re-read it. We have a republic not a democracy.
newmexicobob More than 1 year ago
Thomas Paine provides a very simple, direct and non-partisan argument for limited government and against career politicians. This book offers a very insightful perspective into the thought processes of our founding fathers. It truly illuminates how far we have drifted, nearly 180 degrees, from the original concepts that were the foundation for our great nation. I strongly believe that this book is an essential read for every American!
RolfDobelli More than 1 year ago
In Philadelphia in early 1776, Thomas Paine (1737-1809) anonymously published a booklet called Common Sense. His impassioned plea for American independence and his anti-government tirade directed at King George III sold 100,000 copies within three months. Eventually, a half-million copies circulated in an America with only two million literate citizens. Paine's clear, concise writing, intended for the masses, sacrifices no rhetorical grandeur. As contemporary Americans look back to their Founding Fathers for inspiration, Paine's reasoned, ardent words carry even greater meaning. getAbstract highly recommends this building block of the United States of America to all modern students of history.
JennyWren More than 1 year ago
Anyone interested in understanding how it has come to be that many feel the United States is well on it's way to becoming a socialist society should read Common Sense. Does society drive government, or does government drive the development of our society. Gives great insigtht into the minds that formed this nation. One for the permanent library and to spark an interesting conversation.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is what a true patriot should read! And best of all it is written for the rights of all people, by a radical (for his time) yet very intelligent Englishman. Hats off to Mr. Paine!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Common Sense is the best explaination to the fight for American Independence. Every reason for the break is stated so elequently in Common Sense, and the Student of the American Revolution needs this book to understand the heart of the matter. It is also good for ones seeking life's lessons.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thomas Paine, a literary genius for his time, wrote this exemplary piece of writing to convince America to seperate from England. One look at this literary treasure and you will see that it is no surprise that he succeeded.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you have questions on what government is suppose to be about, get this book
BuggaBugga More than 1 year ago
We owe a debt to Englishman Thomas Paine. I believe he wanted to lower the level of suffering of the human race & increase the levels of it's happiness. To be free of worry about the most basic needs of life while enjoying the Fruits of Life is a great ideal that should not be afforded only by the the wealthy but affordable by all people. Does one choose to be povety stricken? Does one choose to be uneducated? Not when the availibility is free & availible to all those who want to rise above the rabble and excel. Thomas paine suggested ways a tide might raise all boats. Roland Maurice,Sandy,Oregon
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A true work of art in United States history. If nothing else, this book properly demonstrates the mindset and intentions of the original "Americans" back  in the years before and during the revolutions. Thomas Paine's ability to connect to his audience (nearly the entirety of the colonies) is remarkable, explaining what actual values this country was founded on. While the history of the United States has always been questionable, regardless if you like it or not, this is worth the effort to read. Just like anyone who is honestly interested in the the U.S. constitution should probably start by reading it, if you are curious about what started our country, this is the book to do it. With exceptional writing and marvelous insight, this historical piece will prove to you what the United States was really founded on.
Akin More than 1 year ago
It is very powerful piece with timeless impact for all generation to glean virtue from.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must have book to go along with the Constitution of the United States. I have placed it on a end table in my living room so any one might pick it up and read. I can't wait to order more of the leather bound books for my collections and I see more are being added. Great, Thank you Barnes and Noble.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Must reading for those who want to restore America to the people.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wish more people with authority would read this book. A lot of problems could be avoided!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JPDH More than 1 year ago
While this book most certainly will not take long for someone to read it is still a book that you will enjoy if you’re interested in US history. It covers basic common sense reasoning, as to why the Colonies should not be joined back with Great Britain and that they should be free from the crown and be a nation on their own. You can read this and see what the Founding Fathers and others of that time read that challenged all who read it to use Common Sense that we needed to be an Independent Nation.
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