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About the BookShowing how Paine turned Americans into radicals, the author presents the nation's democratic story with wit, subtlety, and, above all, passion. Paine was one of the most remarkable political writers of the modern world and the greatest radical of a radical age.
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 rebellion into a revolutionary war but, as Harvey J. Kaye demonstrates, articulated an American identity charged with exceptional purpose and promise.
"The moment I finished this book (at four in the morning) I couldn't wait to call Harvey Kaye and leave a message that I was suing him for inducing insomnia. I couldn't put the thing down! The story of Thomas Paine--then and now, for the man and his ideas are very much alive today--stirs the heart, moves the mind and routs the demon of despair. The best political book of the year!" --Bill Moyers
"Thomas Paine has at last found a worthy defender in Harvey Kaye, a gifted historian whose account of Paine is nearly as lively and feisty as its subject. Readers of all political persuasions will find this book of compelling interest, and will find it much harder henceforth to deny Paine's importance--not only in his own time, but in the entire sweep of American history." --Wilfred M. McClay, SunTrust Chair of Humanities at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and author of The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America
"If the rights of man are to be upheld in a dark time, we shall require an age of reason. Harvey Kaye's lucid work helps create the free citizen's memorial to Thomas Paine, who is still shamefully unacknowledged by the democratic republic that he lived and died to bring about." --Christopher Hitchens
"For two centuries, Americans have fought for possession of Tom Paine's soul at least as vigorously as our ancestors fought over his literal bones. Harvey Kaye tells the tale well, and a revelatory tale it is. Along the way, he demonstrates how much, in this time that tries men's and women's souls, the resurrection of Paine could still do for America's flagging radical imagination." --Todd Gitlin, author of The Intellectuals and the Flag
"In this stunning portrait of Tom Paine and his legacy across the political spectrum, Harvey J. Kaye recovers 'common sense' for our own time. This is a major contribution to understanding the American promise of freedom, equality, and the revolutionary tradition." --Eileen Boris, Hull Professor of Women's Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
"In this fascinating study, Harvey Kaye rediscovers Thomas Paine's central place in an American radical tradition stretching from the Revolution to the present, and reminds us how Paine's words still resonate in American society today." --Eric Foner, Columbia University
"Harvey Kaye provides a radical eighteenth-century founder for Americans in the Twenty-First Century. Moreover, Kaye convincingly shows that for two hundred years Americans have not only constantly read and quoted Tom Paine, but also, in their repeated invocations of him, kept the radicalism of their great political experiment forever alive." --Isaac Kramnick, Professor of Government at Cornell University
"Harvey J. Kaye has given us the Tom Paine that Americans urgently need, a fearless, rabble-rousing radical who hugely advanced the cause of freedom. Scrupulously researched, wonderfully written, Thomas Paine and the Promise of America is a book that has found its time." --Paul Buhle, Brown University and co-editor, The Encyclopedia of the American Left
About the Author
Harvey J. Kaye is the Ben and Joyce Rosenberg Professor of Social Change and Development at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. An award-winning author and editor, his numerous books include Are We Good Citizens? and The American Radical.