Historian Howard Zinn demonstrated that there are compelling, alternative histories that are both scholarly and valuable. Now, Thaddeus Russell provides a challenging new way of reading history that will turn convention on its head and is sure to elicit as much controversy as it does support.
Russell shows that drunkards, laggards, prostitutes, and pirates were the real heroes of the American Revolution. Slaves worked less and had more fun than free men. Prostitutes, not feminists, won women's liberation. White people lost their rhythm when they became good Americans. Without organized crime, we might not have Hollywood, Las Vegas, labor unions, legal alcohol, birth control, or gay rights. Zoot-suiters and rock-and-rollers, not Ronald Reagan or the peace movement, brought down the Soviet Union. And Britney Spears will win the war on terror.
It was not the elitists who created real revolution in America nor the political radicals whom Zinn credits, but the people on the fringes of society who laid the foundation for change and were responsible for many of the freedoms we cherish today. American history was driven by clashes between those interested in preserving social order and those more interested in pursuing their own desires---the "respectable" versus the "degenerate", the moral versus the immoral, "good citizens" versus the "bad". The more that "bad" people existed, resisted, and won, the greater was our common good.
In A Renegade History of the United States, Russell introduces us to the origins of our nation's identity as we have never known them before.
©2010 Thaddeus Russel (P)2010 Tantor
"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)
I love the books that are filled with a bits of trivia, and I learned quite a bit listening to this book. Yet, just me personally, I listen to this in small bursts. It is one of those books, not sure if is better used as coffee table reference. There are constant tidbits of info without much of a central theme or narrative means too much at once. Like drinking a slurpee too fast after a job---brain freeze!
Love the book and the tidbits, though, and narrator is fun to listen to as well.
This book gives an account of American history from a different view than what we are taught in public schools. I've always been a fan of Howard Zinn's Peoples History, but Russell presents it from yet another angle. Loved it.
How can you go wrong with this one? Juicy and chalk full of crime, laziness and utter licentiousness, this book is a dream come true to history buffs who are also unprincipled slackers. That's not to say that it's not serious work, though. The research is solid and the facts are well presented. This is actual scholarship, not hacky journalism. Narrator Paul Boehmer's accent, intonation and rhythm are quite odd to me, and bug me sometimes, but he is chosen to read a lot of the best books, so I guess I'm stuck with him. You should really buy this book. It kicks ass.
Yes, the characters come alive when heard audibly.
A Renegade History of the Untied States - Our History as Told by Outcasts of Society
Great book and provides a unique perceptive on our history
My preference for a good story is something totally unusual and not run of the mill stuff. Give me something I haven't heard before.
WOW, this is the back alley of history in the US. You'll learn things in here that nobody would dare teach in a classroom. This is tabloid type history lesson where nothing is held back. This is the greasy sh*t you want to know about and not the whitewashed facade we got in school.
I did like the content of the book. It really helps fill in the blanks in American History. The detail is fabulous and the research was obviously well done. The narration was really dry and delivered in a monosyllabic drone that made this audio book impossible to finish. Would not recommend.
This is the kind of styles I like in my reviews: good pace, cerebral, well-documented, meaty, mind-bending.
In my opinion, a good history book for the general public begins with deep research about a topic that no one really examined before and then an art to bring it to life. A renegade history begins exactly with this premise: among the citizens of the US, probably a good portion were criminals, low-life, outlaws that lived, worked, stealed and, ultimately, had a great influence on the direction the country takes. Yet, history tends to systematically focus on the grander figures and the great moments, just leaving aside all of this.
While the topic is rich, I found myself getting completely disinterested from the book very quickly. The problem is not that the author did not do research (research has been extensive) and not that he does not bring life to the telling (he does), but rather than there seems to be very little to say after all, beyond what one would imagine or already know. Yes, there was certainly a lot of prostitution and debauchery; yes, alcohol was always a recurrent problem; yes, slaves would often mix with the common man in lower-class taverns; yes, some of the disturbances against the british did originate from drunken brawls. But, did we really think otherwise? The book does place some historical precision into these things but, if you are curious, will not teach a lot that is new.
The whole stridency of the extra long prologue that made it impossible to get to the book. I probably agree with most of his points, but couldn't stand that he was so very, very one sided and polemic. There was no meat for the half hour long introduction .... so I tuned out.
Way too polemic, far too little meat.
Not that I could see, in that I couldn't make it through the intro.
If you're going to write a book, don't turn off the reader with a highly polemic and unnecessary introduction. Just get on with it.
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