Thomas Paine's Rights of Man

  • by Christopher Hitchens
  • Narrated by Simon Vance
  • 3 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Thomas Paine was one of the greatest political propagandists in history. The Rights of Man, first published in 1791, is the key to his reputation. Inspired by his outrage at Edmund Burke's attack on the uprising of the French people, Paine's text is a passionate defense of the rights of man. Paine argued against monarchy and outlined the elements of a successful republic, including public education, pensions, and relief of the poor and unemployed, all financed by income tax. Since its publication, The Rights of Man has been celebrated, criticized, maligned, and suppressed. But here, commentator Christopher Hitchens, Paine's natural heir, marvels at its forethought and revels in its contentiousness. Above all, he shows how Thomas Paine's Rights of Man forms the philosophical cornerstone of the world's most powerful republic: the United States of America.

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What the Critics Say

"Lucid and fast-moving....As with all Hitchens, well worth reading." (Kirkus)
"Brilliant portrait....An attractive introduction to Paine's life and work as a whole....Hitchens remains a great writer, and a thinker of depth, range, and vigour." (Prospect)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Exciting July Fourth Listening! Wow!

Somehow I had expected this would be simply Tom Paine's writing, not a whole book about him. History, philosophy and politics are not my strengths, but I've lived long enough and traveled enough that I do care about these things. I found another audio book on the same topics, Founding Brothers, very difficult listening, although I believed it was well narrated. This book by contrast is almost suspenseful. The narrator reads with great understanding, but the book is written so as to be interesting. This author has an exciting mind!

Back in high school I didn't really get it about the deists. And who cared about the Louisiana Purchase? Paine was already trying to solve the problem of slavery, develop a plan for freed slaves. Paine even foresaw a need for a welfare system. Well, goodness! It's a most stimulating book. Educational, exciting, most worthwhile.
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- Mimi

Good, but not exactly what I expected.

I picked this up after hearing Thomas Paine's unwavering irreligious convictions referred to by Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins in their atheist literature. Unfortunately there was not as much information in this vein as I'd hoped, though the last chapter(s?) did recount his later life when his religious views came into sharper focus. Mostly this was interesting in terms of American/British history, and the history of philosophy about human rights.

As others have noted, it is occasionally difficult to tell where a quotation ends and the main text resumes; but genterally the narration is expemplary with some very nice Scottish brogue thrown in for spice.
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- Katy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-23-2007
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio