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A Renegade History of the United States Paperback – Bargain Price, July 5, 2011
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This ultrarevisionist work is provocative, often interesting, and often preposterous. It appears to be a case of bottom-up history gone wild. The trend to view history from the standpoint of mass society is well established. Russell, a historian and journalist, has taken this approach much further. He asserts that the driving force behind many historical developments in history was provided by so-called marginalized groups outside the bounds of “respectable” society. So Russell provides a rapid run through some episodes and social movements in U.S. history, beginning with the meeting of the Second Continental Congress. His champions of liberty are not “respectable” men like Adams, Jefferson, and their ilk. Instead, he finds the real thirst for freedom among the drunkards, prostitutes, and slaves who mix socially and have “fun” in Philadelphia taverns. And so on through the abolitionist, feminist, and civil-rights struggles. Russell is hardly the first historian to notice the influence of the bottom of the social strata on culture, but his constant idealization of the lives of these “free” and “fun-loving” groups means readers should take everything with a heavy dose of skepticism. --Jay Freeman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Raucous, profane, and thrillingly original, Thaddeus Russell's A Renegade History of the United States turns the myths of the 'American character' on their heads with a rare mix of wit, scholarship, and storytelling flair." - Steven Johnson, author of Everything Bad is Good for You and The Invention of Air
“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
Top customer reviews
It shows that things like Racism and Bigotry are symptoms of the puritanical ideals imposed by the American Establishment as the assumption of lose sexualization of minorities is the hidden basis for said prejudice. This was a fascinated discovery and allows us to understand their ideals.
Russell however missed some aspects that I wished he would go into, like on how Japanese American Buddhist Priests support Japan and for Americans of Japanese Ancestry to resist and fight against America would have been nice as there was little proof of efforts from Imperial Japan to do this (as so far Italy had plans to mobilize the Americans of Italian decent to fight America). Plus it would have been nice to elaborate on American culture being able to beat Al Quida, but I believe he covered how American Culture defeated the USSR which I felt was a very powerful chapter as even in the worst dictatorships, you cannot beat the Rock and Roll desire. However one must remember, this isn't Country culture, Reagan Revolution Culture, or even said Puritan's Cultural that ended the Cold War, but that of that Deviant Sexualized Culture.
In all I highly recommend this book.
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.