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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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9,02292332 (4.23)175
Member:tomtomorrow25
Title:A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present
Authors:Howard Zinn
Info:Perennial (1995), Paperback, 688 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:history

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A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn (1980)

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Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
A very important work in understand in American History. Though not perfect, the author creates a new narrative in weaving together various historic events. That new narrative at times seems a bit too focused on good-ordinary-people versus bad-political-elite, but worth a read nonetheless. A heavy reliance on secondary sources though, to the point where certain chapters feel like no more than a summary of various journals and other books. ( )
  Thomper | Nov 21, 2014 |
(this review was originally written for bookslut)

Howard Zinn readily admits that his A People's History of the United States is a biased work. What is unique about his telling of history is the direction of the bias. This is a history biased in favor of the workers (mostly female) who died when a factory collapsed, and against the owners who knew the construction was faulty and did nothing. It is biased in favor of the Indians who rebelled, and against the Spaniards who slaughtered them for not bringing them enough gold. This is a history that does not gloss over the faults of presidents, just because a few good things happened while they were on watch. This is a history that gives credit to the people who organized, the petitions that were sent, and the sit-ins that were held.

There are a few points in the book where even I, whose often knee-jerk progressive/liberalism makes my fathers teeth grind, felt that the book was *too* biased. That the expectations Zinn appeared to have were entirely unreasonable for the time periods he was talking about. Upon reflection, these points only served to make clear just how biased our objective history textbooks really are. Columbus exterminating an entire culture was just a misunderstanding. Right. Just like all the Native Americans were savages and all the slaves were resigned to their lot. Zinn provides numerous and clear counter-examples to those historical claims that I have always doubted told the true story. But what is less comfortable, is the laying bare of the weaknesses of the men I would like to like. Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt. Men whom I may still choose to like, but with eyes less clouded than before.

Of course in 655 pages, it is difficult to cover comprehensively everything that happened in this country from when Columbus first set foot on some of the nearby islands to the present. One of my favorite things about this book is that it offers so much direction in the way of further reading. When many of the chapters left me thirsty for more, I didn't even have to turn to the extremely thorough bibliography in the back, many books which informed the times and which were inspired by the times were discussed in the text. Zinn's work is not an ending place. One cannot read this book and know everything there is to know about the history that was not taught to you in school. This book is a starting place. An opening door to a new way of thinking. To the realization that ordinary people have changed the history of this country time and time again. And perhaps you can too. ( )
2 vote greeniezona | Sep 20, 2014 |
This is quite possibly one of the densest books I have read in a long time. It is incredibly liberal and anti-Establishment.

While I LOVE the idea of telling the story of group's whose voices are traditionally left out, I was disappointed in some of the voices that were left out still. Although he mentions them in the Afterword, he completely dismisses any fights for Latino/Hispanic rights, or anything on the rights of homosexuals. Instead, he focused a lot on African American, labor, and women's movements. And while those are valid stories worth being told, he says it is because he is not familiar with Latino/gay rights movements. This just brings one question to my mind: Isn't that the point of writing a book like this...to uncover the stories that are not covered traditionally?

But, that aside, this is a very thorough book. For the critics who say that he is bias, hell yes he is. But so is every author of any textbook that teachers give their students. It's time for a revision of our history books. It may not inspire patriotism, but it will spur thought. It is only a matter of what we want as a society, a people of unthinking, super patriotic people, or a society of those who question their government and think for themselves. (This is obviously NOT the desire of those in power...)

Anyone interested in knowing some of the alternate histories of the United States, this book is for you. However, I caution you to take the reading slowly. This is a nonfiction history book, and it is not a quick read. Somehow I managed it in 2 months--a feat I deem a miracle. Read this book a little at a time... ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
This is quite possibly one of the densest books I have read in a long time. It is incredibly liberal and anti-Establishment.

While I LOVE the idea of telling the story of group's whose voices are traditionally left out, I was disappointed in some of the voices that were left out still. Although he mentions them in the Afterword, he completely dismisses any fights for Latino/Hispanic rights, or anything on the rights of homosexuals. Instead, he focused a lot on African American, labor, and women's movements. And while those are valid stories worth being told, he says it is because he is not familiar with Latino/gay rights movements. This just brings one question to my mind: Isn't that the point of writing a book like this...to uncover the stories that are not covered traditionally?

But, that aside, this is a very thorough book. For the critics who say that he is bias, hell yes he is. But so is every author of any textbook that teachers give their students. It's time for a revision of our history books. It may not inspire patriotism, but it will spur thought. It is only a matter of what we want as a society, a people of unthinking, super patriotic people, or a society of those who question their government and think for themselves. (This is obviously NOT the desire of those in power...)

Anyone interested in knowing some of the alternate histories of the United States, this book is for you. However, I caution you to take the reading slowly. This is a nonfiction history book, and it is not a quick read. Somehow I managed it in 2 months--a feat I deem a miracle. Read this book a little at a time... ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
This is a history book from the other side's point of view. The other side being Indians, blacks, women, the poor and the incarcerated. This is no flag waving Team USA history book. Zinn gives voice to the Americans who have traditionally been silenced by either corporations, the media or the government itself. Unflinching and not flattering, readers will surley look at their government much more skeptically. ( )
  queencersei | Jul 1, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 89 (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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Dedication
To Noah, Georgia, Serena, Naushon, Will-and their generation
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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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Since its original landmark publication in 1980, A People's History of the United States has been chronicling American history from the bottom up, throwing out the official version of history taught in schools–with its emphasis on great men in high places–to focus on the street, the home, and the workplace.

Known for its lively, clear prose as well as its scholarly research, A People's History is the only volume to tell America's story from the point of view of–and in the words of–America's women, factory workers, African Americans, Native Americans, working poor, and immigrant laborers. As historian Howard Zinn shows, many of our country's greatest battles–for a fair wage, an eight-hour workday, child-labor laws, health and safety standards, universal suffrage, women's rights, racial equality–were carried out at the grassroots level, against bloody resistance. Covering Christopher Columbus's arrival through the 2000 Election and the "war on terrorism," ,A People's History of the United States, which was nominated for the American Book Award in 1981 and has sold more than one million copies, features insightful analysis of the most important events in our history.

This new edition contains two new chapters covering the Clinton presidency, the 2000 Election, and the "war on terrorism," continuing Zinn's important contribution to a complete and balanced understanding of American history.

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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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