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From the opening line—"Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last"—you will know that you are in the hands of a master storyteller and in the company of a fascinating woman hero. Inspired by a brief passage in Moby-Dick, Sena Jeter Naslund has created an enthralling and compellingly readable saga, spanning a rich, eventful, and dramatic life. At once a family drama, a romantic adventure, and a portrait of a real and loving marriage, Ahab's Wife gives new perspective on the American experience.

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

Topics: Kentucky, American South, Obsession, Disguises, Whaling, Shipwreck, Indigenous Peoples, Mothers, Mental Illness, Love Story, Pregnancy, Slavery, War, Marriage, Feminism, Love, Grief, Maritime, Writing, Journeys, LGBTQ, Female Protagonist, Sailing, Women Pushing Boundaries, Survival, American Civil War, Family, Spirituality , Death, American History, Suicide, Friendship, Revenge, Cape Cod, New England, Massachusetts, United States of America, Boston, Early America, Civil War Period, Lyrical, Poetic, Adventurous, Epic, Panoramic, Transcendentalism, First Person Narration, Episodic, Metafiction, American Author, Female Author, and 20th Century

Published: HarperCollins on Oct 6, 2009
ISBN: 9780061983696
List price: $11.85
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Lovers of history should read this book! Zinn presents an unbiased account of history, often supported by quotations of people who were there. This book contains everything they didn't want to teach you in school! Appropriate for high school and beyond...read more
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Undeniably one of the comprehensive and sweeping accounts of American history from "the people's" perspective. The playwright, activist, and historian Howard Zinn carries the burden of writing a lucid, accessible, (and most importantly) a relevant account of U.S. history. Often when reading books touching on history you hear subtle and sometimes not so subtle worship and praise for "leaders" of men-politicians, kings, princes, barons and the like. From the perspective of most historical chroniclers it is these men who have shaped history with merely their hands and ideas. Zinn takes this formulaic approach to history and turns it on its head. With sharp analysis of foreign and domestic policy, and unabashed criticism of established historical accounts this book makes for a powerful, clarifying read.read more
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I do not agree with the implications most people would derive from this book, but I do find it a very thought-provoking and balanced presentation of an alternative view of history. In a couple isolated instanced, I felt Zinn overstepped the facts. Those instances aside, this book invokes shock that so many educated people never told us the full story.read more
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Howard Zinn is the high school teacher I wish I’d had. In interviews he describes himself as a self-taught historian even though he has a Ph.D. from Columbia. His point is that almost all of the material in his “People’s History…” had to be discovered and researched independently as none of it was ever part of his professional education. And that’s the point; this book covers history that is almost never part of the curriculum. From the first page, where he quotes Columbus advocating a policy of deception in order to enslave the natives, to the last chapter, where he documents Clinton’s quiet dismantling of the New Deal, habeas corpus, and the 1st amendment, Zinn is unrelenting in his condemnation of the myth of American History. It is, by turns, engrossing, depressing, and enraging, but it is never boring. This twentieth anniversary edition adds about a hundred pages of new material, so even if you’re already familiar with this text it’s worth having this nice cloth version of the book that taught us the true meaning of American Ingenuity. -Charlesread more
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The one history book you should read.read more
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A People’s History of the United States is a revisionist history text that attempts to document U.S. history as it appeared from the eyes of “the people” – the poor, the black, the American Indian, and the female; in other words, all the people who until recently had no say in how the United States was governed. It attacks the elementary-level view of American history as one full of heroes fighting for liberty, and instead paints a particularly bleak picture of oppression and control. This is a book that reminds us that Christopher Columbus personally engaged in genocide, that Lincoln did not particularly care about freeing slaves, and that the Founding Fathers created a government of, for and by rich white slaveowners.The ultimate impression the book leaves one with is that the United States is controlled by a slim percentage of extremely rich people, that domestic and foreign policy is entirely revolved around protecting “the national interest” (i.e. corporate interest), that the government, judiciary and media all work diligently to maintain this status quo, and that this state of affairs dates all the way back to the Revolution. Most people already know this, but to see it so thoroughly and articulately documented and summarised is quite shocking.The book is, obviously, quite biased. Zinn openly admits this, and declares that he is “not troubled by that, because the mountain of history books under which we all stand leans so heavily in the opposite direction – so tremblingly respectful of states and statesmen and so disrespectful, by inattention, to people’s movements – that we need some counterforce to avoid being crushed into submission.”I’m not sure to what level I agree with that; I certainly thought he was stretching it at some points in the book, such as his portrayal of Native American society as a perfect harmonious utopia, or his steadfast opposition to all wars, even World War II and Korea. I do not subscribe to the belief that when arguing a point you should misrepresent, or entirely omit, the viewpoint of your opponent. If you are in the right, their arguments will ultimately be defeated; if not, perhaps you should rethink your opinion.When describing the SS Mayaguez incident, for example, Zinn makes passing reference to “a revolutionary regime” that had recently seized power in Cambodia. That regime was, of course, the Khmer Rouge, one of the 20th century’s most incomprehensibly evil governments. Perhaps the Mayaguez incident really was all about propaganda – and Zinn makes a compelling case for that – so why avoid mentioning the Khmer Rouge? Because Zinn knows the connections a well-educated reader will draw? Because it brings up the fact that regadless of motive, rescuing the captured crew was the correct course of action? Zinn details how the crew were well-treated by their captors, as though that made it okay, despite previously discussing how the relatively happy lives of many American slaves did not make their slavery one jot less cruel.This is just one example of many small incidents throughout the book where I found myself disapproving of Zinn’s technique. I hesitate to draw comparison to Michael Moore, because Moore is much less elegant and refined and serious than Zinn, but he’s the only comparable figure I can think of: somebody presenting a one-sided argument that might even be called propaganda, and which should not be tolerated simply because it’s propaganda for what is good and right and just.Of couse Zinn, as mentioned above, openly acknowledges his bias and the motive behind it, and I would greatly prefer for people to read something that admits its bias rather than falsely claiming objectivity. The other important factor is, of course, that I am not the intended target for this book. A People’s History of the United States was written by an American, for Americans, in an effort to undermine the false assumptions and accepted wisdom prevalent in American culture, and particularly in American schools. As an Australian, I come from a culture where the United States is generally regarded quite poorly. Yet I could still draw parallels; although Australia is a far more egalitarian society, with a political system less corrupted by lobbyists and business interests, we too have classes, and politicans here also exploit our fears of foreigners as a convenient boogeyman. Here, too, the lower and middle classes are often bizarrely opposed to trade unions. Huge swathes of A People’s History of the United States, particularly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, revolve around the labor movement: the strikes, the protests, the sit-ins and the struggles. Although I also found these sections to be the most tedious, it was quite eye-opening to see a vision of the United States during a time when the poor were not held in Stockholm Syndrome with the rich.Clearly I’m not the best person to judge the value of this book. I certainly don’t think it’s a book you should read uncritically, nor without reading other books on American history. But it certainly has a valuable place in American political and historical discourse, and the purpose Zinn wrote it for is a noble one. Apparently he copped a lot of flak because the outlook of the book was so depressing, but I actually found his personal opinion to be quite positive, particularly in chapters towards the end where he describes his vision of the future, where the military-industrial complex has been overthrown and the American government concerns itself with all of its people, not just the wealthiest. This is not a belief I share; I look at Americans protesting Obama, a man no different from any of his predecessors except in the colour of his skin, chanting about how he is a socialist and a Marxist and a communist. I look at them and I wonder how they can possibly be so oblivious, how they can possibly not realise that all their beliefs and values have been shaped by think-tanks and politicians with the delibarate intent of keeping theem in check; no different, except in volume, from working class Australians who vote for the Liberal Party because they’re frightened of boat people. I could wish that every American would read A People’s History of the United States, but a good chunk of them would throw it aside as “communist rubbish,” and another good chunk would lap up every thing Zinn says without thinking laterally, and would then go spraypaint a local council chamber while listening to Muse. I think what I’m saying is that most people are idiots and deserve what they get from the government.Um, I mean, it was a bit boring sometimes but a really thought-provoking book. Recommended.read more
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Zinn looks at American History through the struggles of the underdog, the poor, Native American and the undesirables. While I do not necessarily agree with all Zinn's assertions I do believe that this is a must read. History usually looks at the winners and sugar coats the issues that do not fit the desired narrative. Zinn challenges the usual US history lesson and looks at little known rebellions that speak about the struggle of this nation.read more
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NOT the standard version of American history you learned it school. Instead, Zinn does just what he says, and presents U.S. history from the viewpoint of ordinary, non-famous, people -- mostly of them poor. On top of this, Zinn imposes his own (very strong) viewpoint: from the left, the w-a-a-y left. At times, this can drive a more middle of the road reader into talking back (no, Howard, modern capitalism is not entirely a plot). It is, however, an invigorating antidote to the standard view of American history.read more
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As a reference or an additional information source, this isn't terrible (4 stars). It really does hit a lot of high points & some that other histories have left out. The writing is good. While dry, it is readable & conveys a lot of information. My copy is an old one that only goes through the Vietnam war. He has updated versions to 2003, I believe.It is NOT a balanced view of our history & is proposed reading for schools (minus 1 star). It shouldn't be unless read with other materials as it only tells part of the story. If you want to know anything about how minority groups were mistreated, you'll find it here. While accurate, the view is so unbalanced as to become nauseating after a while (minus another star). While most historians have an axe to grind, most do it more subtly than Zinn does. To the best of my knowledge, he doesn't gossip nor present any incorrect facts, he does present his facts in such a way as to slam our government at every turn. He does bring up some points that many other histories have glossed over, though (add one star). For instance, in the early history of the United States, he is very careful to point out every group not represented by the Constitution, yet makes no mention of the fact that these people were not represented before the Revolution either. It's good that he brings up the point, but not so great that he leaves the impression that they obviously should have been. It wasn't obvious to the people of that time that they should have been represented. Men of property made the decisions & always had. Women, slaves & men without property didn't get a say. That they eventually did says a lot for the foundation these men laid, which Zinn carefully avoids.So overall it is a good thing to read, but only with another history to balance it at hand.read more
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Hands down, must read, if you're not bothered by poking and prodding your national consciousness.read more
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Excellent overall history of the united states told through the viewpoint of the average citizen. Zinn debunks lots of myths of our national heros and gives a full accounting of what they actually did vice what who are brainwashed into believing they did. A must read for any one interested in an honest accounting of how this country started and what it is actually based on. This book will change your life.read more
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The classic history of America from the vantage point of the people you don't hear about in the textbooks. Zinn writes a narrative that is complete and very readable. At times shocking and appalling this book gives a new perspective on American history.read more
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A very radical but important contribution to understanding American history and government.read more
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Forgot about this book until the death of Howard Zinn. Dr. Zinn did us all a favor with the "other side" of American History. It should be mandatory reading to graduate from High School and again from College! All History is written by the winners -- Zinn tells the story of the losers in America History.read more
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Zinn has an axe to grind: that from Columbus' "discovery" of the New World through contemporary times, native peoples, women, poor whites, African-Americans, immigrants, have all suffered at the hands of rich and powerful white men. The book provides a service by examining commonly held beliefs and holding them to factual examinations. In just one example, Abraham Lincoln is seen as being personally anti-slavery, but politically neutral. Freeing Southern slaves was not his primary goal; keeping the Union together was, and Zinn intimates that if the Confederacy would have been open to compromise than Lincoln would not have issued the Emancipation Proclamation. However, in addition to unique perspectives, the reader is subject to a great deal of overkill, and a feeling of redundancy. The author makes his point--and then continues to drive his perspective in overwhelming documentation. It's a reductionist view of American history, and even if you essentially agree with the author's thesis, by the end of the book a reader feels fatigue rather than exhileration. Also, there's no perspective; are all nations as monomaniacal as Zinn paints the U.S.? If this country is as bad as Zinn asserts, why is there still a clamor by people the world over to gain entry? Very valuable but not enjoyable: from the genocide of the "great explorers" through the imperialism of the late 19th century, through military interventions in the 20th century, and on to the cowardice and economic self-interest of politicians--from the Founding Fathers to todays hacks--it's not a pretty picture.read more
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In light of Mr. Zinn's passing, everyone should read this book. Mr. Zinn spent his life researching the dark side of American history, bringing it into the mainstream and informing others of his knowledge.read more
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Many thought-provoking passages, especially where the history presented intersected with the history I learned more thoroughly in school (I'm still a little vague on the general goings-on in the US between 1900 and 1919). Over-all the information and presentation are well put together, with the bias of the work unapologetic but acknowledged, which is more than I can say for a lot of the histories that Zinn wrote this work in argument to.read more
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This book should be required reading for anyone in high school. And again in college. And again in graduate school. And again at any entry level job. You get the point.This book highlights the untold story behind history. As they say, history is written by the winners. This is the story of the losers. Read it. Soak it in. And realize that there are many more losers in history than winners. Then decide which group you're a part of....you'll never be the same again after reading this book.read more
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A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present (P.S.) by Howard Zinn (2005)read more
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Fascinating stories you didn't hear in high school about American history told from alternative points of view.read more
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I'm slowly making my way through this book (one chapter at a time . . . and rereading them everytime I wait too long in between) to gain a picture of African American history in the United States.read more
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Might not have made me guilty, but it made me think. I can't agree with everything, but it is a subject anyone (American or not) should be able to get into, but not the definitive word on everything American. Gives a good read on wat Americans outside of the U.S. hear every now and again from non-Americans.read more
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Howard Zinn tells the story of the United States from the perspective of the underdog - the Indians, slaves, women, workers, and so forth. The book is 'readable', i.e. not a ponderous diatribe. The book is also well-sourced and credible. The book is not the complete picture of the history of the United States. On the other hand, a history of the US that does not include the history that Zinn tells is certainly incomplete. A necessary antidote to the standard histories by an eminent historian.read more
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Consistently lauded for its lively, readable prose, this revised and updated edition of A People's History of the United States turns traditional textbook history on its head. Howard Zinn infuses the often-submerged voices of blacks, women, American Indians, war resisters, and poor laborers of all nationalities into this thorough narrative that spans American history from Christopher Columbus's arrival to an afterword on the Clinton presidency. Addressing his trademark reversals of perspective, Zinn--a teacher, historian, and social activist for more than 20 years--explains, "My point is not that we must, in telling history, accuse, judge, condemn Columbus in absentia. It is too late for that; it would be a useless scholarly exercise in morality. But the easy acceptance of atrocities as a deplorable but necessary price to pay for progress (Hiroshima and Vietnam, to save Western civilization; Kronstadt and Hungary, to save socialism; nuclear proliferation, to save us all)--that is still with us. One reason these atrocities are still with us is that we have learned to bury them in a mass of other facts, as radioactive wastes are buried in containers in the earth." If your last experience of American history was brought to you by junior high school textbooks--or even if you're a specialist--get ready for the other side of stories you may not even have heard. With its vivid descriptions of rarely noted events, A People's History of the United States is required reading for anyone who wants to take a fresh look at the rich, rocky history of Americaread more
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A fascinating look at history from the eyes of the average person. Though not always flattering, A People's History presents an often overlooked perspective of major events in U.S. history.read more
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A book with a grand and noble goal - which was only achieved for a portion of the book. I found the first of the book quite boring and lacking ample context. Much of it seemed simply like a catalogue of activism - strikes, moments of civil disobedience etc. What it all left me wondering was - well in spite of all that, look where we are now? The book took a substantial turn for the better when it entered the 20th century. In particular he introduces and expands upon a general thesis that I happen to strongly agree with. What people crave is stability, what they want to appear to want is justice and morality. What government does is protect the elite, what it wants to be perceived as doing is providing justice and security. When the oppression of a group of people by the elite leads to instability for the general populous, then the government must act. The resulant action must be enough to stop the perception of instability, yet it can never be enough to really take power away from the elite. His description of how that dynamic plays out over and over through out the twentieth century, leading to gradual and real change without a fundamental power shift is excellent. The chapters on the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war, are very strong. One area where the book was weak was in placing what was happening in the US in context with other countries. He mentions women's sufferage being attained with minimal comment on parallel movements in other countries. Areas where gains in the US are later and weaker than other countries could benefit from explanation. What is it about the US people that they ended up being the only western democracy without universal health care?The 1st edition ended in 1980 with subsequent new editions (I read 2003). He should have stop with the coherernce of the 1st edition. I found the added chapters out of place, somewhat gratuitious, and consequently annoying. Large portions are simply critiques of US foreign policy and reads like a political history and the notion of the people, and why they failed to care, is largely lost.My last complaint is that with very few exceptions he leaves out popular culture as both influence and activism.All that being said, worth reading.read more
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Had it been of better literary quality, I'd give this books 5 stars. As it is, this book's 4 stars come almost solely by virtue of the excellent information it presents. Read this book. Yesterday.read more
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A staggering work of scholarship. An essential tool to deprogram your (USian) self from a state or conservative christian education. The style and tone shifts, well, radically, as the book reaches the clinton years, as Zinn's framework becomes apparent.read more
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This was my school's 8th-grade textbook. (You can imagine the sort of school I went to.) I could not detest this book any more than I do.read more
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Senior year of high school, I took a team-taught class combining religion and literature. I have mentioned my english teacher, Mr. Rob Peick, in another review ("Rivethead"); Mr. Mark Syman taught us religion, and he was a huge fan of Zinn. He also felt positively tortured by guilt over his ugly, woven leather shoes, as they were produced in South America, probably by peasant labor.read more
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Lovers of history should read this book! Zinn presents an unbiased account of history, often supported by quotations of people who were there. This book contains everything they didn't want to teach you in school! Appropriate for high school and beyond...
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Undeniably one of the comprehensive and sweeping accounts of American history from "the people's" perspective. The playwright, activist, and historian Howard Zinn carries the burden of writing a lucid, accessible, (and most importantly) a relevant account of U.S. history. Often when reading books touching on history you hear subtle and sometimes not so subtle worship and praise for "leaders" of men-politicians, kings, princes, barons and the like. From the perspective of most historical chroniclers it is these men who have shaped history with merely their hands and ideas. Zinn takes this formulaic approach to history and turns it on its head. With sharp analysis of foreign and domestic policy, and unabashed criticism of established historical accounts this book makes for a powerful, clarifying read.
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I do not agree with the implications most people would derive from this book, but I do find it a very thought-provoking and balanced presentation of an alternative view of history. In a couple isolated instanced, I felt Zinn overstepped the facts. Those instances aside, this book invokes shock that so many educated people never told us the full story.
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Howard Zinn is the high school teacher I wish I’d had. In interviews he describes himself as a self-taught historian even though he has a Ph.D. from Columbia. His point is that almost all of the material in his “People’s History…” had to be discovered and researched independently as none of it was ever part of his professional education. And that’s the point; this book covers history that is almost never part of the curriculum. From the first page, where he quotes Columbus advocating a policy of deception in order to enslave the natives, to the last chapter, where he documents Clinton’s quiet dismantling of the New Deal, habeas corpus, and the 1st amendment, Zinn is unrelenting in his condemnation of the myth of American History. It is, by turns, engrossing, depressing, and enraging, but it is never boring. This twentieth anniversary edition adds about a hundred pages of new material, so even if you’re already familiar with this text it’s worth having this nice cloth version of the book that taught us the true meaning of American Ingenuity. -Charles
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The one history book you should read.
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A People’s History of the United States is a revisionist history text that attempts to document U.S. history as it appeared from the eyes of “the people” – the poor, the black, the American Indian, and the female; in other words, all the people who until recently had no say in how the United States was governed. It attacks the elementary-level view of American history as one full of heroes fighting for liberty, and instead paints a particularly bleak picture of oppression and control. This is a book that reminds us that Christopher Columbus personally engaged in genocide, that Lincoln did not particularly care about freeing slaves, and that the Founding Fathers created a government of, for and by rich white slaveowners.The ultimate impression the book leaves one with is that the United States is controlled by a slim percentage of extremely rich people, that domestic and foreign policy is entirely revolved around protecting “the national interest” (i.e. corporate interest), that the government, judiciary and media all work diligently to maintain this status quo, and that this state of affairs dates all the way back to the Revolution. Most people already know this, but to see it so thoroughly and articulately documented and summarised is quite shocking.The book is, obviously, quite biased. Zinn openly admits this, and declares that he is “not troubled by that, because the mountain of history books under which we all stand leans so heavily in the opposite direction – so tremblingly respectful of states and statesmen and so disrespectful, by inattention, to people’s movements – that we need some counterforce to avoid being crushed into submission.”I’m not sure to what level I agree with that; I certainly thought he was stretching it at some points in the book, such as his portrayal of Native American society as a perfect harmonious utopia, or his steadfast opposition to all wars, even World War II and Korea. I do not subscribe to the belief that when arguing a point you should misrepresent, or entirely omit, the viewpoint of your opponent. If you are in the right, their arguments will ultimately be defeated; if not, perhaps you should rethink your opinion.When describing the SS Mayaguez incident, for example, Zinn makes passing reference to “a revolutionary regime” that had recently seized power in Cambodia. That regime was, of course, the Khmer Rouge, one of the 20th century’s most incomprehensibly evil governments. Perhaps the Mayaguez incident really was all about propaganda – and Zinn makes a compelling case for that – so why avoid mentioning the Khmer Rouge? Because Zinn knows the connections a well-educated reader will draw? Because it brings up the fact that regadless of motive, rescuing the captured crew was the correct course of action? Zinn details how the crew were well-treated by their captors, as though that made it okay, despite previously discussing how the relatively happy lives of many American slaves did not make their slavery one jot less cruel.This is just one example of many small incidents throughout the book where I found myself disapproving of Zinn’s technique. I hesitate to draw comparison to Michael Moore, because Moore is much less elegant and refined and serious than Zinn, but he’s the only comparable figure I can think of: somebody presenting a one-sided argument that might even be called propaganda, and which should not be tolerated simply because it’s propaganda for what is good and right and just.Of couse Zinn, as mentioned above, openly acknowledges his bias and the motive behind it, and I would greatly prefer for people to read something that admits its bias rather than falsely claiming objectivity. The other important factor is, of course, that I am not the intended target for this book. A People’s History of the United States was written by an American, for Americans, in an effort to undermine the false assumptions and accepted wisdom prevalent in American culture, and particularly in American schools. As an Australian, I come from a culture where the United States is generally regarded quite poorly. Yet I could still draw parallels; although Australia is a far more egalitarian society, with a political system less corrupted by lobbyists and business interests, we too have classes, and politicans here also exploit our fears of foreigners as a convenient boogeyman. Here, too, the lower and middle classes are often bizarrely opposed to trade unions. Huge swathes of A People’s History of the United States, particularly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, revolve around the labor movement: the strikes, the protests, the sit-ins and the struggles. Although I also found these sections to be the most tedious, it was quite eye-opening to see a vision of the United States during a time when the poor were not held in Stockholm Syndrome with the rich.Clearly I’m not the best person to judge the value of this book. I certainly don’t think it’s a book you should read uncritically, nor without reading other books on American history. But it certainly has a valuable place in American political and historical discourse, and the purpose Zinn wrote it for is a noble one. Apparently he copped a lot of flak because the outlook of the book was so depressing, but I actually found his personal opinion to be quite positive, particularly in chapters towards the end where he describes his vision of the future, where the military-industrial complex has been overthrown and the American government concerns itself with all of its people, not just the wealthiest. This is not a belief I share; I look at Americans protesting Obama, a man no different from any of his predecessors except in the colour of his skin, chanting about how he is a socialist and a Marxist and a communist. I look at them and I wonder how they can possibly be so oblivious, how they can possibly not realise that all their beliefs and values have been shaped by think-tanks and politicians with the delibarate intent of keeping theem in check; no different, except in volume, from working class Australians who vote for the Liberal Party because they’re frightened of boat people. I could wish that every American would read A People’s History of the United States, but a good chunk of them would throw it aside as “communist rubbish,” and another good chunk would lap up every thing Zinn says without thinking laterally, and would then go spraypaint a local council chamber while listening to Muse. I think what I’m saying is that most people are idiots and deserve what they get from the government.Um, I mean, it was a bit boring sometimes but a really thought-provoking book. Recommended.
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Zinn looks at American History through the struggles of the underdog, the poor, Native American and the undesirables. While I do not necessarily agree with all Zinn's assertions I do believe that this is a must read. History usually looks at the winners and sugar coats the issues that do not fit the desired narrative. Zinn challenges the usual US history lesson and looks at little known rebellions that speak about the struggle of this nation.
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NOT the standard version of American history you learned it school. Instead, Zinn does just what he says, and presents U.S. history from the viewpoint of ordinary, non-famous, people -- mostly of them poor. On top of this, Zinn imposes his own (very strong) viewpoint: from the left, the w-a-a-y left. At times, this can drive a more middle of the road reader into talking back (no, Howard, modern capitalism is not entirely a plot). It is, however, an invigorating antidote to the standard view of American history.
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As a reference or an additional information source, this isn't terrible (4 stars). It really does hit a lot of high points & some that other histories have left out. The writing is good. While dry, it is readable & conveys a lot of information. My copy is an old one that only goes through the Vietnam war. He has updated versions to 2003, I believe.It is NOT a balanced view of our history & is proposed reading for schools (minus 1 star). It shouldn't be unless read with other materials as it only tells part of the story. If you want to know anything about how minority groups were mistreated, you'll find it here. While accurate, the view is so unbalanced as to become nauseating after a while (minus another star). While most historians have an axe to grind, most do it more subtly than Zinn does. To the best of my knowledge, he doesn't gossip nor present any incorrect facts, he does present his facts in such a way as to slam our government at every turn. He does bring up some points that many other histories have glossed over, though (add one star). For instance, in the early history of the United States, he is very careful to point out every group not represented by the Constitution, yet makes no mention of the fact that these people were not represented before the Revolution either. It's good that he brings up the point, but not so great that he leaves the impression that they obviously should have been. It wasn't obvious to the people of that time that they should have been represented. Men of property made the decisions & always had. Women, slaves & men without property didn't get a say. That they eventually did says a lot for the foundation these men laid, which Zinn carefully avoids.So overall it is a good thing to read, but only with another history to balance it at hand.
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Hands down, must read, if you're not bothered by poking and prodding your national consciousness.
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Excellent overall history of the united states told through the viewpoint of the average citizen. Zinn debunks lots of myths of our national heros and gives a full accounting of what they actually did vice what who are brainwashed into believing they did. A must read for any one interested in an honest accounting of how this country started and what it is actually based on. This book will change your life.
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The classic history of America from the vantage point of the people you don't hear about in the textbooks. Zinn writes a narrative that is complete and very readable. At times shocking and appalling this book gives a new perspective on American history.
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A very radical but important contribution to understanding American history and government.
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Forgot about this book until the death of Howard Zinn. Dr. Zinn did us all a favor with the "other side" of American History. It should be mandatory reading to graduate from High School and again from College! All History is written by the winners -- Zinn tells the story of the losers in America History.
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Zinn has an axe to grind: that from Columbus' "discovery" of the New World through contemporary times, native peoples, women, poor whites, African-Americans, immigrants, have all suffered at the hands of rich and powerful white men. The book provides a service by examining commonly held beliefs and holding them to factual examinations. In just one example, Abraham Lincoln is seen as being personally anti-slavery, but politically neutral. Freeing Southern slaves was not his primary goal; keeping the Union together was, and Zinn intimates that if the Confederacy would have been open to compromise than Lincoln would not have issued the Emancipation Proclamation. However, in addition to unique perspectives, the reader is subject to a great deal of overkill, and a feeling of redundancy. The author makes his point--and then continues to drive his perspective in overwhelming documentation. It's a reductionist view of American history, and even if you essentially agree with the author's thesis, by the end of the book a reader feels fatigue rather than exhileration. Also, there's no perspective; are all nations as monomaniacal as Zinn paints the U.S.? If this country is as bad as Zinn asserts, why is there still a clamor by people the world over to gain entry? Very valuable but not enjoyable: from the genocide of the "great explorers" through the imperialism of the late 19th century, through military interventions in the 20th century, and on to the cowardice and economic self-interest of politicians--from the Founding Fathers to todays hacks--it's not a pretty picture.
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In light of Mr. Zinn's passing, everyone should read this book. Mr. Zinn spent his life researching the dark side of American history, bringing it into the mainstream and informing others of his knowledge.
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Many thought-provoking passages, especially where the history presented intersected with the history I learned more thoroughly in school (I'm still a little vague on the general goings-on in the US between 1900 and 1919). Over-all the information and presentation are well put together, with the bias of the work unapologetic but acknowledged, which is more than I can say for a lot of the histories that Zinn wrote this work in argument to.
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This book should be required reading for anyone in high school. And again in college. And again in graduate school. And again at any entry level job. You get the point.This book highlights the untold story behind history. As they say, history is written by the winners. This is the story of the losers. Read it. Soak it in. And realize that there are many more losers in history than winners. Then decide which group you're a part of....you'll never be the same again after reading this book.
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A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present (P.S.) by Howard Zinn (2005)
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Fascinating stories you didn't hear in high school about American history told from alternative points of view.
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I'm slowly making my way through this book (one chapter at a time . . . and rereading them everytime I wait too long in between) to gain a picture of African American history in the United States.
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Might not have made me guilty, but it made me think. I can't agree with everything, but it is a subject anyone (American or not) should be able to get into, but not the definitive word on everything American. Gives a good read on wat Americans outside of the U.S. hear every now and again from non-Americans.
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Howard Zinn tells the story of the United States from the perspective of the underdog - the Indians, slaves, women, workers, and so forth. The book is 'readable', i.e. not a ponderous diatribe. The book is also well-sourced and credible. The book is not the complete picture of the history of the United States. On the other hand, a history of the US that does not include the history that Zinn tells is certainly incomplete. A necessary antidote to the standard histories by an eminent historian.
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Consistently lauded for its lively, readable prose, this revised and updated edition of A People's History of the United States turns traditional textbook history on its head. Howard Zinn infuses the often-submerged voices of blacks, women, American Indians, war resisters, and poor laborers of all nationalities into this thorough narrative that spans American history from Christopher Columbus's arrival to an afterword on the Clinton presidency. Addressing his trademark reversals of perspective, Zinn--a teacher, historian, and social activist for more than 20 years--explains, "My point is not that we must, in telling history, accuse, judge, condemn Columbus in absentia. It is too late for that; it would be a useless scholarly exercise in morality. But the easy acceptance of atrocities as a deplorable but necessary price to pay for progress (Hiroshima and Vietnam, to save Western civilization; Kronstadt and Hungary, to save socialism; nuclear proliferation, to save us all)--that is still with us. One reason these atrocities are still with us is that we have learned to bury them in a mass of other facts, as radioactive wastes are buried in containers in the earth." If your last experience of American history was brought to you by junior high school textbooks--or even if you're a specialist--get ready for the other side of stories you may not even have heard. With its vivid descriptions of rarely noted events, A People's History of the United States is required reading for anyone who wants to take a fresh look at the rich, rocky history of America
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A fascinating look at history from the eyes of the average person. Though not always flattering, A People's History presents an often overlooked perspective of major events in U.S. history.
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A book with a grand and noble goal - which was only achieved for a portion of the book. I found the first of the book quite boring and lacking ample context. Much of it seemed simply like a catalogue of activism - strikes, moments of civil disobedience etc. What it all left me wondering was - well in spite of all that, look where we are now? The book took a substantial turn for the better when it entered the 20th century. In particular he introduces and expands upon a general thesis that I happen to strongly agree with. What people crave is stability, what they want to appear to want is justice and morality. What government does is protect the elite, what it wants to be perceived as doing is providing justice and security. When the oppression of a group of people by the elite leads to instability for the general populous, then the government must act. The resulant action must be enough to stop the perception of instability, yet it can never be enough to really take power away from the elite. His description of how that dynamic plays out over and over through out the twentieth century, leading to gradual and real change without a fundamental power shift is excellent. The chapters on the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war, are very strong. One area where the book was weak was in placing what was happening in the US in context with other countries. He mentions women's sufferage being attained with minimal comment on parallel movements in other countries. Areas where gains in the US are later and weaker than other countries could benefit from explanation. What is it about the US people that they ended up being the only western democracy without universal health care?The 1st edition ended in 1980 with subsequent new editions (I read 2003). He should have stop with the coherernce of the 1st edition. I found the added chapters out of place, somewhat gratuitious, and consequently annoying. Large portions are simply critiques of US foreign policy and reads like a political history and the notion of the people, and why they failed to care, is largely lost.My last complaint is that with very few exceptions he leaves out popular culture as both influence and activism.All that being said, worth reading.
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Had it been of better literary quality, I'd give this books 5 stars. As it is, this book's 4 stars come almost solely by virtue of the excellent information it presents. Read this book. Yesterday.
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A staggering work of scholarship. An essential tool to deprogram your (USian) self from a state or conservative christian education. The style and tone shifts, well, radically, as the book reaches the clinton years, as Zinn's framework becomes apparent.
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This was my school's 8th-grade textbook. (You can imagine the sort of school I went to.) I could not detest this book any more than I do.
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Senior year of high school, I took a team-taught class combining religion and literature. I have mentioned my english teacher, Mr. Rob Peick, in another review ("Rivethead"); Mr. Mark Syman taught us religion, and he was a huge fan of Zinn. He also felt positively tortured by guilt over his ugly, woven leather shoes, as they were produced in South America, probably by peasant labor.
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