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(16,829 posts)
Sun Sep 17, 2023, 12:15 PM Sep 2023

I've been listening to A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn [View all]

Its over 30 hours long and goes into various aspects of American History in depth. Its erasing the "great white man" version of history that I learned in school.

The first few chapters:

Chapter 1, "Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress" covers early Native American civilization in North America and the Bahamas, the enslavement committed by the crew of Christopher Columbus (whom Zinn accused of genocide), and incidents of violent colonization by early settlers. Instead of restating the same history that has been presented for centuries, Zinn states that he prefers to tell history from the perspective of the Arawaks, which many people are not familiar with. He describes the purpose of Columbus' expedition and his brutality towards the natives after his arrival. Not only does he use firsthand account of witnesses to Columbus' presence in the islands, he also provides statistics of native casualties to present this different side of history. Topics include the Arawaks, Bartolomé de las Casas, the Aztecs, Hernán Cortés, Pizarro, Powhatan, the Pequot, the Narragansett, Metacom, King Philip's War, and the Iroquois.

Chapter 2, "Drawing the Color Line" addresses the slave trade and servitude of poor White people in the Thirteen Colonies. Zinn writes of the methods by which he says racism was created artificially in order to enforce the economic system. He argues that racism is not natural because there are recorded instances of camaraderie and cooperation between enslaved Blacks and White servants in escaping from and in opposing their subjugation.

Chapter 3, "Persons of Mean and Vile Condition" describes Bacon's Rebellion (1676), the economic conditions of the poor in the colonies, and opposition to their poverty. Zinn uses Nathaniel Bacon's rebellion to assert that "class lines hardened through the colonial period".

Chapter 4, "Tyranny Is Tyranny" covers the movement for "leveling" (economic equality) in the colonies and the causes of the American Revolution. Zinn argues that the Founding Fathers agitated for war to distract the people from their own economic problems and to stop popular movements, a strategy that he claims the country's leaders would continue to use in the future.

Chapter 5, "A Kind of Revolution" covers the war and resistance to participating in war, the effects on the Native American people, and the continued inequalities in the new United States. When the land of veterans of the Revolutionary War was seized for non-payment of taxes, it led to instances of resistance to the government, as in the case of Shays' Rebellion. Zinn notes that "Charles Beard warned us that governments—including the government of the United States—are not neutral ... they represent the dominant economic interests, and ... their constitutions are intended to serve these interests."


I know there are other views of American history, and his emphasis is different. That's why I highly recommend it.

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The best history book I ever read. Layzeebeaver Sep 2023 #1
Yep. I've donated a copy to every school my daughter attended underpants Sep 2023 #2
In 1964 I had a us history teacher riverbendviewgal Sep 2023 #18
Great history book. I still gasp for air thinking about Zinn's description of slaves packed in tiny Silent Type Sep 2023 #3
That was my reaction to the first chapter - on Columbus. milestogo Sep 2023 #4
I have a pet peeve about Columbus. He did not discover this country. Lonestarblue Sep 2023 #8
Vikings arrived in Newfoundland Canada in 1021. milestogo Sep 2023 #9
Columbus's own writings on the matter are horrific. Johnny2X2X Sep 2023 #10
Agreed. yardwork Sep 2023 #31
I've been listening to it, too. Excellent corrective to the enormous biases in how our history is Martin68 Sep 2023 #5
Especially depressing is that the pursuit of and means to power, wealth and control KPN Sep 2023 #30
Loved Zinn. usonian Sep 2023 #6
Sobering read duckworth969 Sep 2023 #7
I wish more people would realize that the U.S. military Sky Jewels Sep 2023 #11
yup milestogo Sep 2023 #15
Well said n/t Doc Sportello Sep 2023 #20
I remember when I would read or hear on the news that American military was sent to some Delmette2.0 Sep 2023 #24
I wish the media talked about why we have a refugee crisis on our southern border. yardwork Sep 2023 #32
Yes, it is beyond tragic. Sky Jewels Sep 2023 #35
Long ago in my life, a total wakeup call from the myths delivered at school. RobertDevereaux Sep 2023 #12
That nook is probably banned nu magad riverbendviewgal Sep 2023 #13
I am currently rereading Zinn and I think you left out one of his most important topics. That is the flashman13 Sep 2023 #14
I haven't gotten that far yet. milestogo Sep 2023 #17
I just read a piece in Dissent (current issue) Dave says Sep 2023 #27
Anyone remember this scene... keep_left Sep 2023 #16
Yes, and that is what I thought of when I read the OP. c-rational Sep 2023 #28
I run a social group for progressive women coffeenap Sep 2023 #19
Fairy Tales, all of it. milestogo Sep 2023 #21
Milestogo, where are you listening? Prairie_Seagull Sep 2023 #22
I get a monthly purchase from Audible. Listen on my kindle or phone. milestogo Sep 2023 #25
I like the tactile experience of reading a book and have resisted Audible for years now. Prairie_Seagull Sep 2023 #29
Commie propaganda! LymphocyteLover Sep 2023 #23
Not just critical race theory - historical critical theory. milestogo Sep 2023 #26
There are a lot of history classics out there, or they should be Warpy Sep 2023 #33
I've been a "history" person since the age of 12 303squadron Sep 2023 #34
another good book is 'lies my teachers told me' mopinko Sep 2023 #36
Zinn is fascinating ITAL Sep 2023 #37
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