out of 5
Review by Eric
Although I do not have many good things to say about Hitchens, one compliment I must pay to him is to give much esteem to his biography writing. Hitchens never seems to miss small historical facts that bridge on fables, and thus, makes any reading concerning historical personalities that much more interesting to read about. This book is especially unique in its recollection of feuds, arguments, and conflicts that followed Paine throughout his life. The writing in this short book is concise yet dense. Hitchens does a superb job summarizing main points that Paine emphasized throughout his work along with depicting who and what may have influenced his thought. Hence, the reader gets an equal dose of information, theory, and historical context. Foremost among such example is the details surrounding Paine's travels, and how the political situations of any given country affected his perspective, and the most famous feuds that served as catalysts for his revolutionary thinking. One may recall here Paine's notorious feud with the father of ideological Conservatism Edmund Burke - a feud which drove much of Paine's responses in his Rights of Man. All in all, the book is a quick read but is filled with Hitchen's penchant for quirky anecdotes, brilliant analysis, and limitless intelligence - he never backs away from making apt philosophical and/or political comparisons and thus demonstrates his commandment of the subject matter. This is done humbly but effectively, all with due respect for Thomas Paine, which is the reason why I relish his historical/biographical writing that much much.