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

by Howard Zinn

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: A People's History

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13,417146350 (4.23)257
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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» See also 257 mentions

English (140)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (145)
Showing 1-5 of 140 (next | show all)
What a slog...but a necessary slog. ( )
  AlainaZ | Jun 5, 2022 |
After years of hearing how Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, used in academia, has negatively influenced students' perceptions of the USA, I decided to read his book and make my assessment. The introduction to A People's History was written by Anthony Arnove, an activist and Zinn devotee who has appeared with Zinn over the years and co-edited A People's History. Arnove was also on the editorial board of the International Socialist Review a "quarterly journal of politics, history, theory, and current events from a Marxist perspective", that ceased publication in 2019. In the closing statement, they stated "We hope that other publications will continue to carry the legacy of Marxist theory, analysis, and politics to future radicalizing generations."
In Zinn's "Afterwards", (which I feel should always be read first), he explains how he felt misled about how he was taught U.S. history; always with a positive slant and patriotic view of the U.S. being all good. Zinn’s motives are not aligned with a belief in democracy and capitalism, to show its shortcomings to make it better. On the contrary, A People's History appears to be fodder for future generations stimulated by radicalism and Marxist theories that, taken to conclusion, would result in an overthrow of the government. Zinn has been credited with writing a history that teaches students to think for themselves. Unfortunately, throughout A People's History he uses ellipses to evade a more nuanced perspective, thus leading the reader/student in a way that suggests conclusions they should reach regarding the matter being discussed, then asking for an answer or agreement with a suggestion, similar to a reporter formulating a question while at the same time suggesting the answer. Zinn doesn't use accepted citing references for his sources but instead will state the name of a book or other publication, suggesting you can read it and figure out what his point was, making it tedious (unlikely), to learn what was left out by the use of ellipses. In several cases, I followed where it lead, discovering the larger meaning and how misleading his statements were, like politicians taking their opponent's statements out of context to advance their cause. Over and over while I read, I wanted to scream; No! You can’t leave it like that and just move on!
After criticizing Zinn for this unfortunate book, from a literary view, it is well written considering his objective. However, I would not recommend it as a definitive history of the USA especially if this is the first or only history to be read. ( )
2 vote danatdtms | Apr 27, 2022 |
Yes, a great bk. This bk has been very, very important to many, many people. It's like: "Yeah, Tell it like it is!". It's an enormously scholarly work. I wrote a long review of it in the magazine that Rita Rodentia & I edited called "Street Ratbag" - issue number 5. The RATicle's called "Recommended Reading". I hope to post it on GoodReads eventually. [Here it is: https://www.goodreads.com/story/show/8287-recommended-reading?chapter=2 ] ( )
  tENTATIVELY | Apr 3, 2022 |
wonderful, insightful, highly recommended.
  Bookjoy144 | Mar 2, 2022 |
Zinn sums up A People's History of the United States perfectly in his first chapter, "My viewpoint, in telling the history of the United States, is different: that we must not accept the memory of the states as our own" (p 10). He is willing to look at the whole truth of our nation, as ugly as it may be. There is a lot of dirt to be dug as Zinn is heavy on the quotes and extensive in his expansive research. But, fear not. This is a not a dry textbook account of our people's history. Zinn is just as quick to insert humor and small amusements such as, "when a[n] [Iroquois] woman wanted a divorce, she set her husband's things outside the door" (p 20). Interesting characters from all walks of life grace the pages of Zinn's extraordinary masterpiece. More than a textbook, this should be on everyone's reading list...even today. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Oct 26, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 140 (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.
 

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Howard Zinnprimary authorall editionscalculated
Arnove, AnthonyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cotton, FrédéricTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stubel, ToniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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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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Book description
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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Seven Stories Press

2 editions of this book were published by Seven Stories Press.

Editions: 1609803515, 1609802810

 

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