A while ago I finished reading (by audiobook) A Renegade History of the United States. The overarching theme of this entertaining and interesting book often seems to be: “look at these fucking squares!”
And that’s important, because the author points out their illiberal, short sighted, and irrational views, the reactionary nature of those views. But the author turns it into yet another A vs. B situation; a linear spectrum. There’s the “renegades” and the “squares.” I’m absolutely on board with the idea that there are establishment squares to be derided. But just because The Man is stupid, doesn’t mean he’s got a monopoly on it.
The positive message is that “renegades” are exemplars of freedom, and especially the freedom to be wrong. If you aren’t free to make mistakes, you aren’t free. And the point of freedom (besides the fact that freedom is excellent) is that it allows a dispersed approach to figuring out the good life. I’m increasingly doubtful that The Hitchhikers’ Guide was anything but correct when it posited that Earth is a computer set in motion to determine the question that matches the answer to “Life, The Universe, and Everything” (the answer is 42, the question is something besides “What is 6×7?”). This history shows a number of instances that show how breaking from the status quo, actively doing what everyone else is convinced is wrong, contributes to the overall flourishing and success of later generations.
All told, I’m happy giving it 4 stars.