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A People's History of the United States (Modern Classics) Paperback – Deckle Edge, November 2, 2010
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From the Back Cover
A classic since its original landmark publicationin 1980, Howard Zinn’s A People’sHistory of the United States is the firstscholarly work to tell America’s story from thebottom up—from the point of view of, and inthe words of, America’s women, factory workers,African Americans, Native Americans, workingpoor, and immigrant laborers. From Columbus tothe Revolution to slavery and the Civil War—fromWorld War II to the election of George W. Bushand the “War on Terror”—A People’s History of theUnited States is an important and necessary contributionto a complete and balanced understandingof American history.
About the Author
Howard Zinn (1922–2010) was a historian, playwright, and social activist. In addition to A People’s History of the United States, which has sold more than two million copies, he is the author of many books, including the autobiography You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, The People Speak, and Passionate Declarations.
P.S. paperback editions include added content such as author interviews and bios, additional stories or essays, and much, much more. Check out what's inside this edition of A People's History of the United States [PDF].
Top Customer Reviews
Yes, this book has its faults, as many of the previous reviews point out. It is very left-leaning. It does sometimes omit factual points that do not support its line of argument. It does sometimes verge on equating the misdeeds of American leaders with the horrific malevolence of the leaders of totalitarian states. It does romanticize its heroes.
For all that, though, this book is an excellent introduction to U.S. history if read as a contrasting voice to more traditional narratives. It is a fine and vigorous antidote to the excessively reverent tone of many high school textbooks.Read more ›
While it is made up of facts, things that are verifiable or at least reliably accepted as being what really happened, our understanding of history rests on a certain assumption that doesn't always hold up - that what we are reading or hearing is The Truth. It's how we learn about history when we're kids - that this happened and that happened, and that's all we really need to know.
The problem, however, is that what we got in our history books wasn't the entire story. Oh, it was true, for a given value of "true," but the historian who wrote the book did so with a specific narrative in mind, one that fit his or her perception of the past and which - more importantly - would sell textbooks to hundreds of schools across the country. The history that we get from those books is designed to appeal to the sensibilities of a populace that is already inclined to think well of its nation, and rarely deviates from the theme. While they do try to note the excesses, injustices and impropriety of the past, they tend to bury it in the glorious achievements of governments and industry.
Unfortunately, doing so means that there's a lot of history that gets left on the cutting room floor. Incidents, people, whole populations get brushed aside because either there's not enough room for them or because telling their story in detail ruins the mood that the historian is trying to set - usually one of bright optimism for a good and just nation.
There is nothing inherently wrong with this approach, either. An historian cannot practically include all of the historical viewpoints, good and bad, into a book meant to be used for only 180 days out of the year.Read more ›
THE BAD: Unfortunately, the book suffers from two fatal flaws, and for this reason does not belong in a classroom (college or otherwise). First, Zinn fails to cite adequately his sources (no footnotes or endnotes), leaving the reader with only a vague sense of his source material. This is particularly unacceptable for a work that admits to be controversial. His excuse, in the preface, that the footnotes would be too voluminous, is lame at best. Witness Pulitzer winning historian McCullough's use of sources in his much acclaimed JOHN ADAMS.
Second, in presenting his evidence, Zinn fails to quantify meaningfully the culpability of those historical figures he wishes to evaluate from the 'people's' perspective, nor does he even discuss the limitations or challenges posed by the evidence, nor does he sufficiently discuss his methodology used for reaching his conclusions. Mostly, he simply cites judgments made in secondary sources. Any college student can do that, and we should expect more from a distinguished professor.
For instance, in his chapter on Columbus, he indicates that two years after Columbus landed on Hispanola the native Arawak population had nearly all died. He also cites evidence of some gratuitously harsh treatment by the Spanish-- but he does not really indicate the degree to which these events were isolated or the norm. Specifically: did the Arawaks perish as a result of systematic slaughter or from disease transmitted from Spanish soldiers?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Reading this extensive tome currently. A fascinating look at the often dark side of our history.Published 1 day ago by Carolyn Aronson
One of the most important books I have ever read - extremely well written an detailed. Also have the first hand sources accompanying text if you want to see where his references... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Alexa LeBoeuf
My brother bought this for me a while back as a Birthday present. And it took me a while to get to it but now that I have, I am FLABBERGASTED at how ANYONE could even remotely take... Read morePublished 4 days ago by Jeffrey A. Harrell
Too liberal of a view on hsitory. Information is totally left wing.Published 5 days ago by Amazon Customer
Great book and a must read for every student who needs a thorough honest opinion on the history of the United States. Read morePublished 6 days ago by SeancironestandupcomiconFB