Thaddeus Russell

Thaddeus Russell is an American historian, founder of Renegade University, host of the Unregistered podcast, and author of two books: A Renegade History of the United States, and “Out of the Jungle: Jimmy Hoffa and the Re-Making of the American Working Class”.

Russell was born in 1965 in a family of professional revolutionaries. His parents were members of International Socialists, a Marxist organization dedicated to creating a workers’ revolution.

When he was four, his mother left him, his two year old brother and his father. After that, his father started drinking, having several affairs, smoking cannabis, and the list can go on. Five years later, Thaddeus and his brother moved back with their mother in a tiny apartment.

In school, Russell was that kind of “problem-kid.” He used to shoplift, pick fights with the black Christian kids over the existence of God, and be so disruptive in class that teachers physically threw him out of the class.

He went to Antioch college, a very “unconventional” institution which exerted a fierce moralism. Antioch inspired him to write his book ‘A Renegade History’; he came to realize that the starkest form of the American cultural contradiction (the theme of the book) was at Antioch. There, Russell states that he has seen most clearly “the fight between the community and the individual, responsibility and freedom, sacrifice and pleasure.”

After graduating from Antioch, Thaddeus received a PhD in history at Columbia University and then, his dissertation was published by Alfred A. Knopf and sparked some mixed feelings: it was appreciated by the public, but not by academics.

He was then offered a job as a professor at Barnard but once again, Russell proved to be different: he cursed in class, talked about sex, and used politically incorrect terms. He showed the students the other side of history, the one that nobody speaks about: prostitutes, non-marital sex, interracial socializing, dancing, shopping, or divorce. He demonstrated that prostitutes, not feminists, won virtually all the freedoms that were denied to women but are now taken for granted.

His controversial teaching methods made Barnard force him to leave (although his students wanted him to continue to have classes with him). That’s when he wrote the book A Renegade History of the United States.

Thaddeus teaches history and philosophy at Willamette University.

A Renegade History o...

by Thaddeus Russell