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Thomas Paine: In Search of the Common Good

Joyce Chumbley and Leo Zonneveld, Editors

Thomas Paine was a man of words. He inspired the American struggle for independence; he defended the causes of the French Revolution. He was the greatest of the English/American 18th-century radical writers, with such timeless works as Common Sense, Rights of Man, and The Age of Reason. This book, Thomas Paine: In Search of the Common Good, offers reflections on his life and writings by a group of experts and specialists who came together at a Thomas Paine Colloquium held at the United Nations in New York on Human Rights Day, December 10, 1987, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of his birth.

Some of the themes in this collection are Thomas Paine's still relevant and revolutionary ideas for demanding independence from any dictatorial rule, for seeking authentic freedom, justice, economic fairness, and security for all through a democratic, representative, and participatory government in which the rule of law is foremost, for speaking truth in straight talk, and for acquiring a global perspective.

Paine was a brilliant idea generator and action activator; he was also a slumber awakener. He called for citizens of the world to wake up, to think rationally, and to create a new world of cooperation, open trade, and peace.

Fearless truth-telling sometimes brought Paine criticism, disrespect, and ultimately neglect. But his search for the common good was grounded in the fundamental understanding that it can be achieved only in the progressive development and perfectibility of human nature. Now, as then, civil society is challenged to responsible conduct and virtuous action through Thomas Paine's writings. Read here in the personal, anecdotal stories from our contributors how he has influenced their lives. And then imagine how we have the power to create the world over in our time.

The contributors and their presentations included in the book are: Michael Foot, "Thomas Paine and the Democratic Revolution," Ian Dyck, "Thomas Paine: World Citizen in the Age of Nationalism," David Braff, "The Forgotten Founding Father: The Impact of Thomas Paine," Eric Foner, "Thomas Paine and American Radicalism During the American Revolution," Charles Francisco, "Thomas Paine: A Most Un-common Man," Bernard Vincent, "From Social to International Peace: The Realistic Utopias of Thomas Paine," Clive Phillpot, "In the Footsteps of Thomas Paine," Paul O'Dwyer, "Thomas Paine Never Died," Sean Wilentz, "Paine's Legacy, David Henley, "Thomas Paine: An Emerging Portrait," Robert Muller, "Remarks on the Present State of the World Inspired by the Philosophy of Thomas Paine," Zofia Libiszowska, "The Reality of the Constitutional Vision of Thomas Paine."

Note on the Development of the Publication

Some Thomas Paine Friends members may remember that the guiding light and resolute spirit of the 1987 Thomas Paine Colloquium was Florence Stapleton, who helped to bring together an international panel of talented participants for the event. Leo Zonneveld of the United Teilhard Trust was the organizer and chairperson. Many years later, an inquiry by Irwin Spiegelman (TPF) about the book's proceedings initiated a revival of interest in those materials. Joyce Chumbley (TPF) completed the task of editing, already begun earlier by Leo Zonneveld, prepared the manuscript for publication, and secured the publisher, Spokesman Books of Nottingham, England.

Thomas Paine Friends, Inc., and its members received the first 200 copies of the book, as the result of funds donated for an initial set-up and print run. The books were printed and delivered by Spokesman Books on time for the 2009 Thomas Paine Birthday Celebrations in the Bicentennial Year of his death.

About the Editors

Joyce Chumbley is a researcher, writer, activist. For over three decades, she has been involved in education, the arts, and progressive environmental, social, and political issues from her base in Florida.

Leo Zonneveld is an author and editor. He served the United Kingdom government, as high technology specialist and lastly as science attaché at the British Embassy in The Hague, for 37 years.

To order Thomas Paine: In Search of the Common Good online, contact:

  • SPOKESMAN BOOKS in the United Kingdom
  • www.spokesmanbooks.com

  • CORONET BOOKS in the United States
  • www.coronet books.com
  • 215-925-2762 (Telephone)
  • 215-925-1912 (Fax)

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