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A Renegade History of the United States Paperback – Bargain Price, July 5, 2011
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“Thaddeus Russell’s A Renegade History of The United States is a work of history like no other—a bold, controversial, original view of American history that will amuse, inspire, outrage, and most of all instruct readers. Russell strips away conventional wisdom and explodes many myths. In the process, he sheds new light on ideas, institutions, and people.”
- Alan Brinkley, Allan Nevins Professor of History, Columbia University, and author of The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century and American History: A Survey
“Thaddeus Russell is a trouble-maker for sure. Whether you call his book courageous or outrageous, his helter-skelter tour through the American past will make you gasp and make you question—as he does—the writing of ‘history as usual.’”
- Nancy Cott, Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History, Harvard University, and author of Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation and The Grounding of Modern Feminism
“Thaddeus Russell has broken free of the ideological prisons of Left and Right to give us a real, flesh-and-blood history of America, filled with untold stories and unlikely heroes. No waving incense before the sacred personages of Washington, D.C. here. This wonderful book follows the best American traditions of iconoclasm and—what is the same thing—truth-telling.”
- Thomas E. Woods, Jr., author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History
“Howard Zinn wrote the ‘People's History’ of the United States. But Thaddeus Russell has written the history of the American People Whom Historians Would Rather Forget: the whores, delinquents, roustabouts—the so-called bums and immoral minority who did more for our civil rights and personal freedoms than anyone could count—until now. There is no understanding of American feminism, sexual liberation, civil rights, or dancing in the streets without this careful analysis that Russell has put before us.”
-Susie Bright, syndicated columnist, author of The Sexual State of the Union, and series editor, Best American Erotica
“A Renegade History of the United States takes us on a tour of backstreet America, introducing us to the rebels and prostitutes, the hipsters and hippies. The book tells good stories, all in the cause of illuminating larger historical struggles between social control and freedom, repression and letting go. Author Thaddeus Russell gives us a new pantheon of American heroes, and argues that those who expanded the realm of desire—for sex, for drugs, for illicit experiences—were the very ones who created our liberties. This is a controversial book, but certainly not a dull one.”
-Elliott Gorn, Professor of American Civilization and History, Brown University, and author of Dillinger's Wild Ride: The Year That Made America's Public Enemy Number One
"This lively, contrarian work [is]... A sharp, lucid, entertaining view of the “bad” American past." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review
This is a fun read that makes a serious point. Even drunkards, whores, black pleasure-seekers, gangsters, and drag queens have contributed to American culture, and sometimes in surprising ways. --W. J. Rorabaugh, professor of history, University of Washington and author of The Alcoholic Republic
"It's always fascinating spending time with a devil's advocate, and Russell is one of the best. You'll shout at this book endlessly, but you won't be able to put it down, for it's chock full of startling, upsetting, and entertaining anecdotes" --The Scotsman
"[A] rollicking and sure-to-be-controversial history of our great nation..." --Metro-Boston
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Top Customer Reviews
We start at the beginning. Part 1 goes from Colonial America and the omnipresent saloon to the Civil War. About colonial and early American history, we learn that saloons and alcohol consumption were not only common, but many saloons were owned (very successfully) by women, and catered to white, black, slave, and free. Despite efforts of states during and after America's independence to shut them down in the name of patriotism, they kept going.
The Civil War chapters may be the most controversial as they mount an impressive array of evidence to show that slaves may have had more freedom under slavery than as free men and women. Using interviews with former slaves, speeches and textbooks during reconstruction, and references to many secondary sources, Russell illustrates the difficulties in creating a new work ethic among a people who were quite unaccustomed to "fending for themselves." Russell IS NOT saying that slavery was better than freedom, but is pointing out that slavery often elicited less responsibility than freedom and, as such, slavery was often easier than freedom. Of particular importance to Russell's thesis is the idea that many vices flourished under slavery that had to be given up for freedom: serial monogamy, for instance, was the norm during slavery where freemen were expected to marry and stay married.Read more ›
I must say, his take on slavery is a bit... unorthodox and tying in minstrel was just... unbelievable, but at the end of the chapter he makes it work. You see the truth of his words when you look back or even look out your office window. More than that, you cannot deny the words of the people themselves who were recorded for posterity during the FDR Administration.
As for prostitutes and womens rights, it's a stretch with a kernel of truth to it. However, it is true that pre-Revolutionary women had far more freedoms than after.
Read it with an open mind and if you doubt, check his facts. I did and was flabbergasted at what I was never taught in school or through extensive reading.
But Russell's defense of his premise relies on anecdotal evidence, and he does not give proper weighting to the suffering imposed on slaves or on ex slaves in the decades that followed the Civil War. His suggestion that most plantation owners treated slaves delicately because they did not want to lower production by angering their slaves is just not adequately defended with hard evidence. There is plenty of evidence to counter this proposition, but you won't find it refuted or even acknowledged in this book.
There are many interesting aspects of American history discussed in this book that make it a worthwhile read. But it is lacking in rigorous scholarship. Being revolutionary and anti-establishment doesn't make the arguments true, it just makes them provocative.
This book made me stop to think and reconsider, but it did not leave me with the feeling that there was a kernel of a great revelation here, and that it is something I would like to dive into more deeply.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Wow! This book opened my eyes to many of the stuff I was often puzzled about. As a student majoring in history. Read morePublished 22 days ago by angel rojas
I found this book in the "used" section of Barns&Nobel and started reading it because it looked interesting. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Righterzpen
I read social media posts by the author, trying to denigrate Jews, arguing that Jews in the 1800's called one another "N-last name". Read morePublished 3 months ago by M. Olenick
I'm pretty sure the writer did his research....which is why the book is fascinating. Let's you realize how and why this country operates on this rich vs poor, black vs white,... Read morePublished 4 months ago by JDub81
Even when I can't agree with the conclusions Russell draws, this book challenged my basic presumptions about society in so many ways. Must-read for intellectual stretching!Published 4 months ago by Gnome33
I heard this guy(Thaddeus Russell) when he was on the daily show with john Stewart, and I was so impressed with what he had to say that I bought his book and mine was I glad that I... Read morePublished 5 months ago by snakeriverhombre
Do you like the fact that nowadays public disapproval of homosexuality is softly and suddenly vanishing away? Then you should be grateful to New York gangsters. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Arnold E. Bjorn