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Extended Audio Sample A Renegade History of the United States Audiobook, by Thaddeus Russell Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (296 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Thaddeus Russell Narrator: Paul Boehmer, J. Paul Boehmer Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2010 ISBN: 9781400188512
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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. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “This lively, contrarian work [is]…A sharp, lucid, entertaining view of the “bad” American past.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • Russell writes with force and scathing humor. Narrator Paul Boehmer accurately delivers his tone.... It's hard to put this down. Renegade, indeed! AudioFile

Listener Opinions

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Katie Hurst | 2/8/2014

    " Couldn't even finish. Arguments didn't really make sense and it seemed the same point was being used over and over, just with different context. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rick | 2/1/2014

    " If nothing else, this book makes you think about the role the fringes of society have played in bringing about social change. While I am not an advocate of deviant behavior, it is important to recognize that good, hard-working, church-going, civilly disobedient folks aren't the only ones who built America. If we do enough family research, we will find less-respectable people among our progenitors. According to Russell, many overworked whites idealized the lives of slaves, America's rebellious youth culture may have influenced the collapse of communism more than the CIA or arms race, Jews dominated American sports in the earlier half of the 20th Century before they sought out more "respectable" professions, and the Mafia had a role in promoting gay liberation. In any case, it's entertaining. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amber McAlister | 1/30/2014

    " An entertaining, though occasionally outrageous and needlessly inflammatory, romp through U.S. history focusing on immigrants, shoppers, gangs, prostitutes, and degenerates. Certain segments of the book had me in stitches-the author's account of the Puritan view of dancing, for instance. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sean | 1/30/2014

    " This is quite a challenging little book, and you kind of have to take for granted that Thaddeus Russell's heart is in the right place, because many of his very un-PC claims will really turn some people off, especially the one about slaves not working as hard as white puritans. He also apes conservative claims about the New Deal being inspired by fascism/naziism, and vice versa. However, it seems to be his point that that moral reformers wanted to make us less free and that resistence whether organized or spontaneous - especially arising from minorities - enriched the society and gave us freedoms we take for granted. I think people of any political persuasion will find things to disagree with or get ticked off about. And people will have justifiable quibbles, such as just how much say did high-toned moral reformers really have?; and did reformers within minority communities who presented idealized versions of their groups really buy into their own claims? Overall, I learned a lot and the book challenged me and it's a worthwhile read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nancy | 1/27/2014

    " Author is an adequate recorder of information but falls short on analysis. He takes an interesting subject and makes it a dull read. I think he could have tried harder. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Ash | 12/26/2013

    " I wanted to love this book. Ultimately, though, I gave up on it. It was uneven, at best. Russell's haste to make a point about renegades made some sections read as (near) apologies for slavery, sex work, etc. I saw his point, but I couldn't really get past his style. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ally | 12/23/2013

    " Finally uploaded this to my kindle & starting it tonight! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jennifer | 12/14/2013

    " The one star review Joanna gave nails it. This book is the equivalent of a child sticking a tongue out and taunting, "am not!" Too many generalizations and too few facts corrode the few interesting tidbits. Overall, I felt this book could be renamed The Racist History of the United States. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jason | 11/30/2013

    " I found this book pretty entertaining. It certainly gives credence to the idea that those who ask questions and think outside the box are those that create change. I really enjoyed the anecdotal stories. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jay | 11/7/2013

    " A history of the contribution to American history by the underbelly of society, criminals, prostitutes etc. An enjoyable read in parts, especially those that covered the Mafia. Not really what I was looking for in a history book for a guy from the UK looking to flesh out his knowledge of the US. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John | 5/20/2013

    " Pretty eye-opening. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle | 3/2/2012

    " Parts were more interesting than others, but overall was good. A slower read than I was expecting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cindy | 11/30/2011

    " Very eye opening... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tommy | 7/8/2011

    " Took lots of random listening sessions to get through it, but well worth it. Now seeing, understanding and realizing things that I hadn't before. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ron Sterling | 6/27/2011

    " History with a twist, straight up, and intellectually inebriating. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kelsey Sheridan | 6/8/2011

    " Don't know if I agree with all of the historical analyses but the facts were super interesting "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robin Imperial | 5/30/2011

    " It was okay. Took a while to slog through it. Mistitled though, should have been a History of Renegades in the United States...but that would not have been as pithy A Renegade History... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wendy | 5/23/2011

    " Interesting and entertaining...Viewpoint notwithstanding, this is a good jumping-off point for classroom discussion. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robin | 3/28/2011

    " It was okay. Took a while to slog through it. Mistitled though, should have been a History of Renegades in the United States...but that would not have been as pithy A Renegade History... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Desiree | 3/21/2011

    " Astoundingly awesome. There really aren't any words-- just read it.
    (Disclaimer: it tackles some extremely sensitive issues in a way you've never seen, so it is not recommended for those who cannot keep an open mind to unexpected revelations.) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Hope | 1/7/2011

    " Interesting in that Russell brings additional social motives to America's historical context. Not sure that they are as strong of factors as he paints, but I did learn some new and interesting things. A fresh perspective. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 InfoShaman | 12/26/2010

    " A look at the impact of criminals, gangsters, prostitutes, gays (when still criminalized) and others on the margins of society on the history of the U.S. This feels like an only partially successful effort to imitate Howard Zinn, but it's an enjoyable read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle | 10/30/2010

    " Parts were more interesting than others, but overall was good. A slower read than I was expecting. "

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About the Author

Thaddeus Russell teaches history and cultural studies at Occidental College and has taught at Columbia University, Barnard College, Eugene Lang College, and the New School for Social Research. He received a PhD in history from Columbia University. He is the author of Out of the Jungle, and he has published opinion articles in the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Salon, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Russell has also appeared on the History Channel and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He lives in Santa Monica, California, with his wife and son.

About the Narrators

Paul Boehmer is an American actor best known for his numerous appearances in the Star Trek universe. Paul is a 1992 Masters of Fine Arts graduate of the Professional Theater Training Program at the University of Delaware.

J. Paul Boehmer is an American actor best known for his numerous appearances in the Star Trek universe. His audiobook narrations have garnered nine AudioFile Earphones Awards and two prestigious Audie Awards for Best Narration.