Jack Fruchtman - Thomas Paine: Apostle of Freedom

I thought I knew quite a few things about Thomas Paine going into the reading of this book. It turns out, I didn't know much about him at all. This man's life is one of the most fascinating in history.

Jack Fruchtman, Jr. is the author. He is a professor of Political Science at Marylandís Towson State University. Perhaps the best part of the author's writing is his willingness to not take a totally apologetic or totally critical look at Paine's life. Instead he deals out the good and the bad so that the reader can look at how Paine was perceived by both his friends and enemies. Too often, books dealing with events and/or people only look at one side of the issue causing the reader to have to essentially read another book from a different perspective just to get a better picture.

One of the many interesting aspects of Paine's life were the reactions he received to writing the Age of Reason. Christians could hardly wait to announce that he had denounced the work. They even made these accusations while he was still living. He made it clear until his death that such was not the case. The attacks on the book weren't aimed at the contents--but at the author's personal life which is still a common apologetic tactic even today. It is telling that many of the attacks came from those who obviously hadn't even bothered to read the book. In their assaults, they claim that Paine was an atheist when a reading of the book couldn't possibly lead one to such a conclusion.

This book is a must for anyone interested in the history of America, France, and/or England. Paine's Common Sense perhaps had a larger effect on American independence and the Declaration of Independence in particular than any other work. My only complaint with Fruchtman's book is my 1st edition hardback copy has a number of spelling and grammatical errors in it. Fruchtman has informed me that these were corrected in the subsequent paperback version (available through the above link).

Every American should read an account of the life and times of Thomas Paine, one of the greatest writers and pamphleteers of all time. Born in 1737, Paine actively participated in both the American and French Revolutions (he was jailed in Paris during the second of those monumental events). Best known as a journalist, he wrote some of the greatest memorable phrases which have made their way into American history, such as "These are the times that try men's souls" and "we have it in our power to begin the world over again." Paine was every bit an American, though he was born in England, in that he embodied the American values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. He died in New York City in 1809.

The leading Thomas Paine expert in the U.S. presents both a biography of the controversial Founding Father and an analysis of his works. Known as "the Voice of the Revolution", Paine was a truly original thinker, a man whose magnificent, freedom-loving spirit is richly captured in this major new biography.

This finely-written biography covers Paine's early life, the various odd occupations that preceded his political career, his life as a journalist and political activist in the US, France and England, and his embittered later years. Fruchtman has written a timely text on a fascinating radical thinker, focusing in particular on his commitment to freedom from tyranny, religious superstition, slavery and poverty; his defense of universal rights; and the spiritual beliefs that informed his work and writing. The author also debunks historical slander and present-day distortions that have misinformed people about Paine's ideas.