"These are the times that try men's souls . . ."
It was September 1776; and by the flickering light of an army campfire, a man sat on a hogshead writing.
His name was Tom Paine. This dramatic biography is his story. In 1774, totally unknown to the world, he arrived in America from England with only the clothes on his back, his one tangible asset a letter of introduction from Benjamin Franklin.
Then he published his pamphlet, Common Sense; and the name, Tom Paine, became not only a household word from Massachusetts to the Carolinas, but a name that aroused violent feelings three thousand miles away in England.
The complex nature of Paine's character is revealed with clarity and objectivity. "I have heard two opinions of you, Mr. Paine," said Benjamin Franklin. "Men like Jefferson and Monroe swear by you and think you're the ablest man writing for the American cause. Others, like Gouverneur Morris, think you a low dog, say that you consort with riffraff, and are only a troublemaker."
Born in England, Tom Paine supported American rebellion. Raised a Quaker, he urged war. He was a diplomat too blunt to negotiate subtly; a man who secured a loan of eight million dollars from France but was unable to manage his own financial affairs. In 1776 he was the adored champion of the American Revolution; by 1784 he was largely ignored and without funds, and was later left to languish in a French prison.
Dr. Gurko has brought his skill as a writer and a thorough knowledge of the revolutionary period to this definitive work on one of America's most provocative figures.
—From the dust jacket
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