Thaddeus Russell: Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau

Thaddeus Russell

Historian, Cultural Critic, Author of the controversial A Renegade History of the United States

Thaddeus Russell has re-written the story of America with A Renegade History of the United States.

Known for his provocative lectures, Russell stuns his audiences with what one critic calls a “helter-skelter tour through the American past” that “will make you gasp and make you question the writing of ‘history as usual.’” Drunkards, laggards, prostitutes, and pirates were the real heroes of the American Revolution. Slaves created a culture that was the envy of “free” Americans. 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, legal alcohol, birth control, or gay rights. Zoot-suiters and rock-and-rollers, not generals or the Air Force, brought down the Soviet Union. And Britney Spears will win the war on terror.

Rather than the “great men” revered by conservatives or the radical icons of left-wing histories, Russell shows that it was the “degenerate” and “immoral” people on the fringes of society who made America the land of the free. Our history was driven by clashes between those interested in preserving social order and those more interested in pursuing their own desires — insiders versus outsiders, “good citizens” versus the “bad.” The more that “bad” people existed, resisted, and won, the greater was our common good.

Forget the history you learned in textbooks and class — this renegade historian will upend everything you believe about the American past.

Russell teaches history and American Studies at Occidental College and has taught at Columbia University, Barnard College, Eugene Lang College, and the New School for Social Research. Born and raised in Berkeley, California, he graduated from Antioch College and received a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University. His first book, Out of the Jungle: Jimmy Hoffa and the Re-Making of the American Working Class, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2001. He is a frequent contributor to The Daily Beast and has published articles in New York Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Salon, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as well as scholarly essays in American Quarterly and The Columbia History of Post-World War II America. He has also appeared on the History Channel and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

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  • A Renegade History of the United States: How “Bad” People Made America the Land of the Free
  • Why Drunkards, Laggards, Prostitutes, and Pirates Were the Real Heroes of the American Revolution
  • The Freedom of Slavery and the Slavery of Freedom
  • How Juvenile Delinquents Won the Cold War – And Will Win the War on Terror


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