In January 1776, Thomas Paine published a pamphlet called Common Sense, which electrified the American colonies. Paine demanded freedom from Britain when even fervent patriots were revolting only against excessive taxation. His daring prose spurred passage of the Declaration of Independence. The Crisis, written when Paine was a soldier during the Continental Army's bleakest days, begins with the world-famous line "These are the times that try men's souls." His call for perseverance and fortitude prevented Washington's army from disintegrating. Later, Paine's impassioned defense of the French Revolution, Rights of Man, caused an immediate sensation, but got him into deep trouble with the French ruling classes. Together in one volume, Common Sense, Rights of Man, and major selections from The Crisis, The Age of Reason, and Agrarian Justice represent the key works of one of the world's most eloquent proponents of democracy -- the man who has been justly hailed as the "English Voltaire."