I finished The Trouble With Tom: The Strange Afterlife and Times of Thomas Paine and I want to write a long, quote filled review that will make you want to read it but I also want to get a post up! I might post a better review within the next week...
To keep it short for now, it's a book mostly about the generations directly following Paine's. Each of the people it profiles had their lives forever altered when they read Paine's work and most of them came in contact with his remains at some point, which were taken from his grave by an enemy turned admirer. It's both inspiring and disheartening to read about these men who were feminists, vegetarians, and who encouraged racial mixing at a time when racial marriages were illegal almost everywhere and even in more progressive places whites still didn't see blacks as their equals. Inspiring for obvious reasons and disheartening because this:
"The very fact that men talk of allowing women this or that liberty is evidence that authority itself has been usurped. As well might a pickpocket talk of giving a port-monnaie to someone from whom he had clandestinely filched it. I tell you, reader, we men have no rights to give women; she possesses naturally the same rights as we do."
...because THIS, written in 1870 in reference to women's work rights and rights to CHOOSE whether to have a child or use birth control is STILL controversial!!! (When I read that I almost yelled I was so excited. I want to go back and time and give this guy a hug... and then unfortunately disappoint him by telling him that we're still fighting for African American and women's rights.)
So all in all, this book got me riled up and excited and pissed off and hopeful and everything else a book should do. Highly recommended to anyone who likes reading about inspiring figures from the past and anyone who has any interest in Thomas Paine, Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, or other American historical figures of a similar vein.