A Renegade History of the United States

A Renegade History of the United States

by Thaddeus Russell
4.1 15

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A Renegade History of the United States 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
JohnSH More than 1 year ago
My first introduction to Thaddeus Russell was an article on a blog entitled "Why I Got Fired From Teaching American History." He said his interpretation of history was called "improper," "frightening," and "dangerous." And so it is. As he writes in the introduction, our usual history lessons are from the perspective of the icons of the era, The "Movers and Shakers", political leaders, important industrialists and intellectuals. But nowhere do we get the other side, as Russell describes it: ".history from the gutter up." He posits that the founding fathers, the abolitionists, capitalists, revolutionaries, suffragists, New Dealers, conservatives, liberals, and social activists all held or sought power. The power they sought was the control of people's lives, which means a limiting of their freedoms. This "highbrow" attitude conflicted with the "lowbrow" culture of the saloons, brothels, dance-halls, and nightclubs. He shatters our illusions of what the founding fathers wanted the nation to be. He opens our eyes to see what the people living the history wanted their culture to be. He showed that far from trying to unleash freedom on Americans, they were trying to restrict the freedoms the lower classed enjoyed: they could drink on the job, they could divorce by placing an ad in the paper, and they frequented multi-racial bars, dance-halls and brothels, with no concern with the color or sex of their companions. There were hundreds of bars, tap-rooms and brothels past which the founding fathers had to walk to get to Independence hall and the Continental Congress. Other things that seem strange to us are that women could divorce their husbands for any reason or none; they could own property, and did own bars. Prostitutes and their patrons were not looked upon as sinners, but with such a degree of normalcy that it did not affect their social status. This licentiousness, drunkenness, immoral dancing, inter-racial fraternizing, women's freedoms, and generally having a good time, the founding fathers wanted to stamp out. Russell moves us through history from Pre-Revolutionary days to the present, and describes the outcasts who gave us our freedoms. This book is an eye opener, and very well supports Russell's thesis, that the freedoms we enjoy today, were taken from us by the founding fathers, and championed and restored by the "Drunkards, Laggards, Prostitutes, Pirates, and Other Heroes." Incidentally that is part of the title of the first chapter in "A Renegade History of the United States." Other chapters have equally provocative titles: "How Gangsters Made America A Better Place", "How Juvenile Delinquents Won The Cold War," and my personal favorite, "Almost Free: The Promise And Tragedy Of Rednecks and Hippies." Love it or hate it, it is a fascinating read. If you aspire to be a ne'er-do-well, it is almost a handbook. This is a must read for anyone even slightly interested in American History.
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CS5150 More than 1 year ago
Wonderfully compelling and interesting. It's always refreshing when a scholar will delve past the sanitized version of history that most textbooks will give the reader. As for whoever posted the poor rating, just cause a book is referenced doesn't make it the only source for the reader. If you researched the author, you'd see he has impeccable credentials and is the antithesis of a right-wing loon like Michelle Malkin. Me thinks that reviewer is probably closer in attitude to the prude, repressive men like Adams then those colorful, rambunctious, drunkards that made up a large portion of America back then.
Marian Powers More than 1 year ago
Admittedly i was facinated by the book. That was until i looked at his reference material on one "subject" of this tome,japanese internment during WWll. Both books,one written by Michelle Malkin and the other by Page Smith were both deridded by scholars and witnesses to be false and flights of fancy;to be kind. If this material was used as " research " then all other reseach and therefore the book is suspect. I feel cheated and taken for a ride. Judge for yourselves. M. Rebecca
Joshua Cosme More than 1 year ago