Marrin, Albert. Thomas Paine: Crusader for Liberty. Knopf. 2014. $17.99. 165p. 978-0-375-86674-6. Ages 11-14. P4Q8
Known primarily for his rabble-rousing book, “Common Sense,” Paine had an extensive influence on independence in both America and France. Combined with his biography is a discussion of the Enlightment, emphasizing reason and individualism over tradition. Though sometimes superficial, such as an incomplete reason for the Boston Tea Party, and wandering, such as bringing in the Vietnam War, Marrin does an excellent job of showing how Paine influenced the development of the United States before he lost his following because of his support for the French Revolution. Paine’s death in isolation demonstrates that he was ahead of his time. The book gives a very different picture of a Founding Father in showing his advanced thinking and refusal to follow accepted practices. The author is also author of fine books such as Black Oil about the history of the U.S. involvement in the Middle East to satisfy their need for crude and A Volcano beneath the Snow about John Brown’s war against slavery leading to the Civil War; As Abraham Lincoln said, “History is not history unless it is the truth.” That makes books like this vital to young readers.
December 2014 review by Nel Ward.