A People's History of the United States (Review) PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 29 March 2015 00:00

know enough to be outraged by slavery. I don't agree (i.e. I think it's horseshit) to the droll explanation of economics and time and place that makes slavery in the U.S. into some understandable economic phase. It's as if we consider that our country is a human being and the slavery phase was when it was rebelliously and petulantly thirteen.

We had steam engines, telegraphs, and iron-working to the point where we could build metal ships. And still we had people in chains? I mean, WTF?

So that didn't surprise me. But everything else in Howard Zinn's massive A People's History of the United States did. In a nutshell (nothing in this thick book was in a nutshell, alas), he looks at allllll the history your little schoolbooks and Patriot movies leaves out. Like the complete destruction of the natives by the gold-hungry Spaniards. And the elitism of the founding fathers. And the sporadic rebellions against the injustices of wealth. Slavery, of course. Indian massacres, of course. Injustice to women, blacks, anyone of any color, anyone without money, anyone and everyone around the world, up through the world wars, Korea, Vietnam (shit, ducks in a barrel, there), to the current day with business-backed republicans and hold-their-coats-democrats, it's all here in 688 pages.

Yes, Howard Zinn shows us the America we don't know, of the injustice and imperialism and campaigns for wealth. Yes, you may clutch your flag and denounce around a mouthful of apple pie that it isn't true but it is. Just as people and corporations have secrets best left hidden, so do nations. The victors write the history books, after all. Well, not this one.

My only problem with it was, as mentioned about, the 688 pages of length. Zinn doesn't pick the best examples of a indignity to denounce - he lists them all. So, when you go to the second-class citizenship of women, it's pages and pages. Interesting, it's a People's history that most people won't be able to get through - it took me a month of solid reading to get to the end page. I've watched my comfortable backlog of reviews slowly drain away.

But it's good. Really good. And if you have a feeling, when you look out over what our nation is and hear the screaming debates about guns and climate and foreign policy and our ongoing endless wars, this will give you a good idea about how that came to be. I recommend it to the stout of heart and the comfortable of outlook.


Last Updated on Sunday, 29 March 2015 08:25


0 #1 Gregory Wells 2015-03-29 12:25
Nice review; Glad YOU read so I don't have to: NOW ;-) Looks like all that OTHER book reading I've been doing for past 35 years means I can save 'the Zinn synopsis'; First clue: Slavery NEVER really made 'economic sense' for the Southern colonies in the FIRST place; just made all that 'cheap or free (if a Royal grant) land NOW could have some 'added value' (think how 1870s 'free RR land grant land' had MORE value once there was an actual RR nearby); Proof: How 'economically strong' was the South in Civil War: Their 'ace savior' (England's absolute reliance on their cotton), 'well this Egyptian type will do for now' (it did/ to Reb's ultimate chagrin); I will admit though, took me more than 688 pages and a MONTH to do my 'better understanding of', so in that regard: Can we call Zinn's 'the Cliff's Notes- Complete US History' :lol:
0 #2 admin 2015-03-29 13:30
Yeah, it was a slog, and nothing in the past ever makes sense from our point of view. I'm just like Django - dancing my horse backwards while the plantation explodes.

Of course, now we have new, more subtle versions of slavery...

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