Monday, April 10, 2006

Booknote: Common Sense

Title: Common Sense
Author: Thomas Paine
Publication Information: New York: Penguin Books, 2005
ISBN: 0-14-303625-4
Genre: Nonfiction
Subgenre: Political science, essay.

I found it interesting to read this very small work which gave reasons to the American colonists to pursue their independence. While the vocabulary now and then has a word that may make readers wonder, overall, Paine's words are very clear and accessible. Paine takes the approach of speaking to the people with common sense to demonstrate the grievances against the king and to show why independence was in the best interest of the colonies. For those students of history, seeing some of his advice in the context of events today may seem to be foreshadowing to put it nicely. This, and some of the other writings of the Founding Fathers, may be some items more people should be reading these days.

A brief note on the edition: This book is part of Penguin's Great Ideas series, which are very slim volumes covering various thinkers and writers ranging from Marcus Aurelius to Charles Darwin. The book just had the text; it is not a scholarly edition with footnotes or such. However, it was very easy to read. The edition also includes another work by Paine entitled Agrarian Justice. For readers out there, this would make a good edition to read. However, like many writings of that period of American history, there are many editions available, so find one you like at your library and go read it.

2 comments:

Mark said...

I finally got around to reading this about a year ago, in a Dover edition. I think it cost me $1.25 brand-new.

It was a nice read and oh-so-very relevant to today as you hint at.

Best!

Angel, librarian and educator said...

Mark: Those little Dover editions are wonderful for reading classics. I have read a couple of things on them. At a buck or so, a good deal. I do wonder at times if maybe more people would benefit from reading (or rereading) the writings of the "Founding Fathers." I am not one to say that things do not change over time (I suppose if I was a Supreme Court Justice, I would be one of those who interprets with the times rather than a literalist), but on the other hand, there are certain basic things that were designed by the "Founding Fathers" that are fairly evident. The freedom of religion for instance. It is not only freedom to worship as you wish, but freedom to be left alone and be free of religion if you wish it. I think reading a little Jefferson, Madison, and a few others would do a lot of people some good, not to mention it may seem very relevant as you say. Best, and keep on blogging.