“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 ).
An all-new, stunning, and controversial story of the United States: It was not “good” citizens who established American liberty, declares Thaddeus Russell, but “immoral” and “degraded” people on the fringes of society whose subversive lifestyles legitimized the taboo and made America the land of the free.
In vivid portraits of renegades and their “respectable” adversaries, Russell shows that the nation’s history has been driven by clashes between those interested in preserving social order and those more interested in pursuing their own desires. The more these accidental revolutionaries—drunkards, prostitutes, gangsters, unassimilated immigrants, “bad” blacks—persevered, the more American society changed for the better.
This is not the history taught in textbooks or classrooms—this renegade book will upend everything you believe about the American past.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Part 1 Making Renegades into Americans
1 Drunkards, Laggards, Prostitutes, Pirates, and Other Heroes of the American Revolution 3
2 The Freedom of Slavery 39
3 The Slavery of Freedom 77
4 Whores and the Origins of Women's Liberation 101
Part 2 How White People Lost Their Rhythm
5 A Rhythmless Nation 127
6 From White Chimps to Yankee Doodles: The Irish 140
7 The Jew was a Negro 160
8 Italian Americans: Out of Africa 181
Part 3 Fighting for Bad Freedom
9 Shopping: The Real American Revolution 207
10 How Gangsters Made America a Better Place 229
11 "Behold a Dictator": Fascism and the New Deal 240
12 Just How Popular was World War II? 270
Part 4 Which Side are you on?
13 How Juvenile Delinquents Won the Cold War 285
14 "A Process of Self-Purification": The Civil Rights Movement's Attack on African Americans 295
15 Gay Liberation, American Liberation 324
16 Almost Free: The Promise and Tragedy of Rednecks and Hippies 332
What People are Saying About This
"Russell writes with force and scathing humor. Narrator Paul Boehmer accurately delivers his tone.... It's hard to put this down. Renegade, indeed!" -AudioFile