Thomas Paine, Common Sense, and the Turning Point to Independence
Author: Scott Liell
Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers
March 2003

>From the Publisher

Thomas Paine, a native of Thetford, England, arrived in America's colonies with little in the way of money, reputation, or prospects, though he did have a letter of recommendation in his pocket from Benjamin Franklin. Paine also had a passion for liberty in all its forms, and an abiding hatred of tyranny. His forceful, direct expression of those principles found voice in a pamphlet he wrote entitled Common Sense, which proved to be the most influential political work of the time.

Ultimately, Paine's treatise provided inspiration to the second Continental Congress for the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. 46 Pages is a dramatic look at a pivotal moment in our country's formation, a scholar's meticulous recreation of the turbulent years leading up to the Revolutionary War, retold with excitement and new insight.

Author Biography: Scott Liell, a member of the Tom Paine National Historical Association, is a writer based in Madison, Connecticut.

From The Critics
The Los Angeles Times

"Common Sense," first published on Jan. 10, 1776, in Philadelphia, is one of the great documents in the history of freedom. An astonishing 150,000 copies of the 2-shilling pamphlet, carrying zealous messages about rights and revolution coupled with broadsides against monarchical rule, were snatched up in its first few months. The story of that amazing pamphlet is vividly and economically recounted in Scott Liell's stimulating book, 46 Pages: Thomas Paine, 'Common Sense,' and the Turning Point to Independence. - Ronald K.L. Collins

Publisher's Weekly

Calling Common Sense "the single most influential political work in American history," Liell, a member of the Thomas Paine National Historical Association, asks how, in a mere 46 pages, Paine persuaded American colonists that the only solution to their quarrels with Britain was independence. Liell introduces the anonymous pamphleteer, Paine, a former civil servant who witnessed the crown's abuses and, as a disaffected Englishman, knew how to speak to the colonists. While they had asserted their rights as British subjects, Liell explains, Paine called upon them to claim the natural, God-given rights of all men.

Significantly, he also gave Americans both an identifiable enemy in the person of George III and a higher purpose-not merely national independence but the cause of liberty itself. Charting the pamphlet's spread throughout the colonies, from prominent statesmen to common citizens, Liell cites astounding sales and quotes contemporaries on its popularity. If the book's first two parts, a minibiography of Paine and the exegesis of Common Sense, sound like lectures, this third part, with its stacked quotations and tiresome repetition, reads like a term paper. In the epilogue, Liell simply summarizes Paine's subsequent career as a political writer. This colorless book hardly seems just recognition for one of liberty's most dedicated spokesmen and his revolutionary pamphlet. (May) Forecast: This is a selection of the History Book Club, Military Book Club and Reader's Book Club. A 50,000 first printing and blurbs from David McCullough and Joseph J. Ellis should spark sales.