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A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present (original 1980; edition 1995)

by Howard Zinn

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Member:tomtomorrow25
Title:A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present
Authors:Howard Zinn
Info:Perennial (1995), Paperback, 688 pages
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A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present by Howard Zinn (1980)

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Showing 1-5 of 82 (next | show all)
Three things:
1. I hate Christopher Columbus!
2. Zinn is obviously a socialist
3. The book is eye-opening and simply amazing. ( )
  wallerdc | Mar 26, 2014 |
Refreshing socialist/left-wing social/general history of the world's largest 'democracy', which at least partially,
lays bare the hypocrisy and self-interest of the ruling classes who are careful to make sure that the histories
we usually see are the ones written by THEM.

No illustrations unfortunately, but my copy has one of Dorothea Lange's celebrated photographs of Dust Bowl
refugees on the cover. They may ahve been posed (according to modern theories), but what superb images! ( )
  captbirdseye | Mar 17, 2014 |
Obviously the author has an agenda and a slant but he makes them extremely explicit, and of course all history has to be written from some perspective or another. Sometimes the way isolated facts are dropped completely out of context one gets the impression that he's trying to get away with something but in the sections dealing with subjects I've read in more depth about elsewhere I spotted a lot of material that supports his agenda that he omitted, simply because there isn't enough space for everything. Ultimately it's kind of scattershot and undisciplined, but unavoidably so given the scope Zinn sets out to address. I personally would have preferred reading something with a tighter focus and more depth but as it is pretty much everyone who picks this book up will come away having learned at least something. I personally was pretty surprised by the level of direct physical violence involved in 19th century strikes and strike-breaking... apparently back then people were willing to pick up guns and shoot it out with the National Guard. That is some serious shit and makes modern labor look even weaker than I already thought it did. ( )
  jhudsui | Feb 8, 2014 |
The author spins USA history from the standpoint of others (p. 10) and presents an anti-capitalist, pro-communist view throughout. There is value in seeing USA history from the standpoint of others, but reader need to keep in mind the perspective of the author.

The book includes no illustrations, but there is a index. ( )
  norwayken | Feb 8, 2014 |
I was assigned this work for my introduction to political science course in college. I have to admit I groaned at the very title when I saw it on the syllabus, suspecting what I was in for. And yeah, this book was about what I expected--very much a very hard left wing--no, Marxist interpretation of American history. I hated it, was scathing in my assigned paper on Zinn, and was duly marked down. I learned to parrot Zinn back on the final exam and did well. So yes, I have a grudge against the book.

But I also don’t trust it as history. You won’t find sources cited in this book--it’s a popularization, a synthesis, based on secondary sources with a very pointed agenda. It’s blatant propaganda--not history. I have heard a couple of good things about this book even from those who are opposed to Zinn politically--that it did help influence people to look beyond the “great man” triumphalist narrative of history and look at the contribution ordinary people make--and that at least Zinn is no respecter of the powers that be. I’m a little skeptical though that Zinn had much influence on creating a more diverse narrative of American history--there were a lot of true scholars, who did do original research, involved in that revolution of how we look at history. And by the way the parts I was assigned didn’t actually involve the history per se, but Zinn’s views on democracy itself--that’s what I was tested on. But reading through his villainization of America was depressing and annoying. I think it’s because I just have encountered too many Marxists in college--and life. It made Zinn’s take not enlightening and exciting but very predictable. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Sep 27, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 82 (next | show all)
Covering the period from 1492 practically to the present, this illuminating opus overturns many conventional notions, not just about America's treatment of blacks, but about Native Americans, women, and other disenfranchised groups whose perspectives have traditionally been left out of the education equation.
 
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To Noah, Georgia, Serena, Naushon, Will-and their generation
First words
Arawak men and women, naked, tawny, and full of wonder, emerged from their villages onto the island's beaches and swam out to get a closer look at the strange big boat.
Quotations
While some multimillionaires started in poverty, most did not. A study of the origins of 303 textile, railroad and steel executives of the 1870s showed that 90 percent came from middle- or upper-class families. The Horatio Alger stories of "rags to riches" were true for a few men, but mostly a myth, and a useful myth for control. — chapter 11
One percent of the nation owns a third of the wealth. The rest of the wealth is distributed in such a way as to turn those in the 99 percent against one another: small property owners against the propertyless, black against white, native-born against foreign-born, intellectuals and professionals against the uneducated and the unskilled. These groups have resented one another and warred against one another with such vehemence and violence as to obscure their common position as sharers of leftovers in a very wealthy country. — chapter 24
Capitalism has always been a failure for the lower classes. It is now beginning to fail for the middle classes. — chapter 24
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Presents the history of the United States from the point of view of those who were exploited in the name of American progress.

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