“Thomas Paine, a singularly injudicious man, requires an exceptionally judicious biographer, and in Mr. Hawke he has at last got one. . . . An absorbing narrative that moves briskly through two revolutions and three countries.” —The New Yorker
John Adams said that “without the pen of Paine the sword of Washington would have been wielded in vain.” Yet of all the great figures of the American Revolution, Thomas Paine has been least understood. Now David Freeman Hawke has written a rich biography of the brilliant propagandist who wrote Common Sense, The Age of Reason, and The Rights of Man. Thomas Paine lived a life of great diversity, from poor beginnings through the dramatic roles he played in the American and French revolutions, his friendship with Benjamin Franklin, his imprisonment in France during the Terror, his trial and banishment from England, and the pathos of his declining years. Temperamental and jealous of his reputation, Paine was nevertheless a gentle and unworldly man. In this portrait he comes to life as one of the great revolutionary idealists.