A Renegade History of the United States

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 7/5/2011
  • Publisher: Free Press
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In this groundbreaking book, noted historian Thaddeus Russell tells a new and surprising story about the origins of American freedom. Rather than crediting the standard textbook icons, Russell demonstrates that it was those on the fringes of society whose subversive lifestyles helped legitimize 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 desiresinsiders versus outsiders, good citizens versus bad. The more these accidental revolutionaries existed, resisted, and persevered, the more receptive society became to change.Russell brilliantly and vibrantly argues that it was history's iconoclasts who established many of our most cherished liberties. Russell finds these pioneers of personal freedom in the places that usually go unexaminedsaloons and speakeasies, brothels and gambling halls, and even behind the Iron Curtain. He introduces a fascinating array of antiheroes: drunken workers who created the weekend; prostitutes who set the precedent for women's liberation, including "Diamond Jessie" Hayman, a madam who owned her own land, used her own guns, provided her employees with clothes on the cutting-edge of fashion, and gave food and shelter to the thousands left homeless by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake; there are also the criminals who pioneered racial integration, unassimilated immigrants who gave us birth control, and brazen homosexuals who broke open America's sexual culture.Among Russell's most controversial points is his argument that the enemies of the renegade freedoms we now hold dear are the very heroes of our history books he not only takes on traditional idols like John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Carnegie, John Rockefeller, Thomas Edison, Franklin Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy, but he also shows that some of the most famous and revered abolitionists, progressive activists, and leaders of the feminist, civil rights, and gay rights movements worked to suppress the vibrant energies of working-class women, immigrants, African Americans, and the drag queens who founded Gay Liberation.This is not history that can be found in textbooks it is a highly original and provocative portrayal of the American past as it has never been written before.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
Making Renegades into Americans
Drunkards, Laggards, Prostitutes, Pirates, and Other Heroes of the American Revolutionp. 3
The Freedom of Slaveryp. 39
The Slavery of Freedomp. 77
Whores and the Origins of Women's Liberationp. 101
How White People Lost Their Rhythm
A Rhythmless Nationp. 127
From White Chimps to Yankee Doodles: The Irishp. 140
The Jew was a Negrop. 160
Italian Americans: Out of Africap. 181
Fighting for Bad Freedom
Shopping: The Real American Revolutionp. 207
How Gangsters Made America a Better Placep. 229
"Behold a Dictator": Fascism and the New Dealp. 240
Just How Popular was World War II?p. 270
Which Side are you on?
How Juvenile Delinquents Won the Cold Warp. 285
"A Process of Self-Purification": The Civil Rights Movement's Attack on African Americansp. 295
Gay Liberation, American Liberationp. 324
Almost Free: The Promise and Tragedy of Rednecks and Hippiesp. 332
Acknowledgmentsp. 343
Sourcesp. 345
Permissionsp. 363
Indexp. 365
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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