This book has proven to be an enlightening read. It both teaches and inspires. Howard Zinn has offered us a perspective of the real story of American history heretofore unavailable to us – history from the perspective of real people – immigrant laborers, American women, the working poor, factory workers, African and Native Americans.
A People's History of the United States, originally published in 1980, as a work of non-fiction by the political scientist and American historian, Howard Zinn. Zinn seeks to show us American history through the eyes of common, everyday people rather the views of biased historians. A People's History is included in high school and college curriculum across the United States and is a favorite of American homeschoolers everywhere. It has drastically changed the focus of how history is now presented.
In a 2004 interview, Zinn said, “You might say it took twenty years, twenty years of teaching American history and gathering material and so on, but not knowing that I would write this book. When I actually sat down to write, it took less than a year to write it. I wrote it because after the movements of the sixties people had been radicalized and people became dissatisfied with the traditional history, and wanted histories that showed working people and black people and Native Americans and women. And I was aware that no such book existed, that no such history existed. So I decided that I would try to fill that gap.” (1)
A People’s History begins with a recounting of first encounters of the Native people with Christopher Columbus. Zinn’s opinions of the reality of these first encounters are substantially different from the stories we hear as children. We find Columbus traditionally depicted as a peaceful explorer who, after “discovering” a new land, made friends with the native people. Utilizing Columbus’ own journals as well as the writings of the time, Zinn shows us a Columbus who is a greedy man with a lust for gold who was willing to torture and kill to achieve his ends.
Zinn addresses gender disparity in America with this: “It is possible, reading standard histories, to forget half the population of the country. The explorers were men, the landholders and merchants, the political leader’s men, the military figures men. The very invisibility of women, the overlooking of women, is a sign of their submerged status.”
In Chapter 6 of his book, Zinn casts his view onto the new United States embroiled in facing the changing...