Thursday, September 24, 2009

OHP Book Review - The Elementary Common Sense of Thomas Paine by Mark Wilensky

The Elementary Common Sense of Thomas Paine by Mark Wilensky
Savas Beatie,LLC - Publisher -2008
202 pages

I was not sure how I felt about this book when it arrived on my doorstep. It was about Thomas Paine’s writing of “Common Sense” which I was eager to explore and hopefully expand my understanding of Paine himself, but a whole book on the writing that would fit into modern books 30 or so pages?

What I found was an easy to understand portrait of not only the man himself but of the environment in which brought about the reasons for the writing. This book not only explores the Acts and Petitions between England and the Colonies but also the economic, social and moral aspects of times from both points of view.

Another thing I really enjoyed about the book is that it goes to great lengths to make sure you can understand the context of the writing with definitions on the same page, and it also includes tons of historical quotes by other notable characters of the time. This is meant to be an elementary book, but I would think that the grade level should be starting about fourth grade to get a good understanding of it. However Mark Wilensky has taken another step, which is rare to the aspects of historical books written for the mainstream and not educational focused publishing’s and has packed this book and corresponding website with games, audio, activities and timelines that could include almost any age or grade.

In terms of my review and the mentioning of the grades and ages that I referenced, don’t be misled this book is for anyone, young or old from eight to a hundred and eight. It should be on a shelf in every classroom and on your shelf at home as well…. Why?

Because, most of us today do not know the origins of our history, our story. Have you ever just read the Declaration of Independence, Poor Richard or Common Sense? I would bet that most have not. I could go on a tangent here but I won’t. I will in closing recommend this book whole heartedly; it’s clean concise and easy to understand. It crosses all the generational boundaries and is very interesting read. Pick up a copy, you will not be disappointed.

Craig Anderson
Our History Project

1 comment:

  1. Dear Craig,

    Thank you for this review of The Elementary Common Sense of Thomas Paine. There is more info about the book on our website here Anyone interested in downloadable content and activities from the book can visit

    Sarah Keeney
    Savas Beatie LLC