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A People's History of American Empire

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  1,774 ratings  ·  210 reviews
Since its landmark publication in 1980, A People’s History of the United States has had six new editions, sold more than 1.7 million copies, become required classroom reading throughout the country, and been turned into an acclaimed play. More than a successful book, A People’s History triggered a revolution in the way history is told, displacing the official versions with ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Metropolitan Books (first published 2008)
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The Constitution of the United States of America by James MadisonThe Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the U... by Thomas JeffersonThe Federalist Papers by Alexander HamiltonGreen Illusions by Ozzie ZehnerA People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
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Community Reviews

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So, if there is a god, he/she/it/they doesn't hold my intellect in very high esteem.

He/she/it/they must think I'm an idiot.

See, a while back, I reserved Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, and what I ended up arriving on the holds shelf was the children's version, complete with funny illustrations to try and walk teenagers through the theory of relativity. Now, I thought I had placed a hold on A People's History of the United States, and I ended up with this graphic novel.

It's qu
Sarah Maddaford
I didn't put it down because I disagreed with the presentation of history (although I do think it is a bit harsh). I put it down because it is a large book filled with a single version of historical events. While I do not think that the author is anti-America or anti-American, he is certainly anti-establishment, anti-expansionist, and rather bitter. He served in the military, which gives him more right to be upset with American foreign policy and military action (in my opinion). If I sat down wi ...more
A lovingly constructed version of Zinn's A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present that leaves me wanting to dive into Zinn's entire bibliography. With Zinn as the ever-present narrator (with guest lectures from the likes of Mark Twain, OMG), I was thoroughly entertained, and informed. I had never understood the Spanish-American War before, for whatever reason. But, laying it out in a graphic novel format finally brought me understanding, along with increased understanding of conf ...more
I don't dispute that much of what is presented here is factual. I would however dispute that ALL of the facts are being presented. I understand that those who believe in "radical" politics feel that their viewpoints have been massively underrepresented - but that doesn't give you a pass on dealing with historical facts that don't support your overarching thesis.

This is a polemic on American imperialism rather than an alternative look at American history... and that impression is reinforced by th
starting with mad magazine, then to the "big book" series, moving onto the "beginners" series, then onto other types of graphic novels and interpretations, the genre and pop-education in general has fascinated me for awhile. This is an amazing addition to the genre, although as a pop-ed tool, the rhetoric may be a bit too much for many people not versed in radical theory, ideology, or thought. i considered getting this for my dad for xmas, but then realized he may be a bit turned off from it and ...more
Everyone should read this book! Going far far beyond the "official" versions of almost all historical events of America's imperialistic activities, this book finally tells it from the people's side. Yes "history" is written by the victors, even when the victors sought out and created the conflicts in the first place. Americans have been fed a long line of bullshit from day one! This book, while not going into too much detail about any one event (see the bibliography people! If you want to dig de ...more
This is a graphic novel adaptation of Zinn’s famous history book, “A People’s History of the United States.”

It doesn’t cover everything in “A People’s History...”, but starts with the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890, when American soldiers killed or wounded 300 Native Americans in about an hour. In the 1890’s, America was going through a depression, so a foreign enemy was needed against which to rally the public (along with finding new markets to exploit). The Cuban Revolution was attempting to th
Emilia P
Two probs. Number one: The illustration style of this was hodgepodge, photo-collage/artsy/basic-routine all mixed up, with not that much attention to the effect of the switches on pacing, mood etc. So that was annoying.
Problem two: Uh, I don't like this narrative of history. It was like wars of empire are bad, so here are the violent things people did to try to stop them, or the papers they stole from the government to prove how bad they were. There were a few hopeful words here and there,
This is a wonderful graphic novel, condensing the book "A People's History of the United States" into a medium that opens the material and topic contained to a different audience. Covering alternate viewpoints of historical events in an American context, "A People's History of American Empire" looks at history from the 'losers' side, if one were to frame history into a model of winners and losers in order to use the quote "History is written by the winners." The graphic novel is a good read for ...more
At one time I thought that graphic novels or graphic adaptations were rather childish and not true literature. This is the third one I have read and it is the best. It was very powerful and thought provoking. I think that the illustrations made an even more powerful statement than the written word. This book tells the history of the American Empire, but more from the point of view of the losers rather than the winners. It gives the "behind the scene" story of many of the wars and conflicts the U ...more
A real disappointment. As a historian, probably I was hoping for too much, but I thought that the attempt to mix history and graphics could be interesting. It was not. Graphically the book was bland, historically it was highly tendentious, and as a work of literature it was poorly written and executed. Zinn is not a nuanced historian, this is understood from the get-go, but his flaws in distorting and simplifying a complex past for explicit political purpose are even more pronounced here because ...more
Matthew -MK-
Aug 31, 2015 Matthew -MK- rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: No One

This is in no way a book of history. It is a political hatchet job expounding a twisted and carefully calculated downward spin on American history. The thought that this book is being used as a textbook in various schools does a lot to explain the warped view of history, politics and culture that is oozing out of so many of America's colleges. A self-professed social activist, Zinn described himself as "something of an anarchist, something of a socialist. Ma
As we all know, America is the land of the free, a land of wonder and pure accomplishments. It is the only country in the world that has never done wrong without a good reason. Or at least that’s what our political leadership wants us to think. In reality, America is a country like any other. It does good and it does bad, and if you’ve ever decided to read one of Howard Zinn’s books, you’re definitely not reading for the good. But that does not mean this book is bad. In fact, Howard Zinn’s A Peo ...more
This was a fun graphic novel given to me by a friend over the 2014 holiday season. The art wasn't anything to write home about, but the content was certainly exciting. I am inclined to believe that this illustrated history is biased and oversimplifies the real history of US wars and involvement in international affairs, but it does dare the reader to investigate further. Plus, you can't expect a graphic novel to be entirely scholarly. Being a US citizen, I find the blindly patriotic view entirel ...more
Aj Laberinto
The Cold War is no more. Left in the midst of that contest for global maneuvering is the United States of America. There maybe the United Nations but it is under the shadow of the Americans where we all find ourselves.
Justice, freedom and equality for all. These are what they are said to stand for. But does it include us non-Americans?
'A People's History of American Empire' is a graphic novel written and drawn by Mike Konopacki and Paul Buhle based on the American historical writings and person
Okay, we all studied US history. Zinn's versions are always nuanced. Don't laugh because this one is a comic book -- it is GREAT. I gave my copy to Paul Rusesabagina, of Hotel Rwanda fame, for he and his kids.

This one doesn't leave out those blots on our white-washed versions of history where our leaders conned the people or just oppressed the people and there was injustice and un-American activities alright.

You will love it. Give it to all your younger sibs and relatives.
Brittany Craig
I agree with the ideas presented by Zinn and the artists, but despite its progressive message, the book isn't progressive in practice. Zinn narrates the book but there are "guest narrators" of sorts--almost all of whom are white men like Zinn. Zinn came from working-class roots, but now speaks to us from the ivory tower, and the artists accordingly only gave guest narrators like Emma Goldman a maximum of 6 frames (women of color received even less--maybe one was even given a voice) but white mal ...more
I have mixed feelings about this book.

Zinn reveals the atrocities our government has inflicted upon the rest of the world: Native American genocide, the Monroe Doctrine, war propaganda, the arrest of conscientious objectors in WWI, Japanese internment camps, the dropping of Atomic bombs, war crimes in the Philippines and Vietnam, the manipulation of Latin American governments, oil grabs in the Middle East, McCarthy's black lists and the arming Islamic radicals "against the soviets" which led dir
Donkeykonguk Forero
Sep 17, 2008 Donkeykonguk Forero rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: David Thomas
A heartbreaking and devastating history of America's imperial history, which will seem strangely similar to current events. Manufactured provocations, vicious cruelty, and utter hypocrisy abound. Told in a simple comic book style, this is a heartfelt plea from Zinn to all Americans to take a closer look at the often anti-democratic, inhumane, and even sickening behavior of their government.
RLL52014_Melanie Johnson
Several years ago I read Howard Zinn's famous book, A People's History of the United States. I didn't know until recently that the book had been converted into a graphic novel. The book, which also includes autobiographical elements (Zinn's life story is woven in) as well as more recent history - specifically the events of September 11, is an excellent addition to any American History teacher's library. The graphic novel begins with the events of September 11 and the rest of the book proceeds to ...more
Who says comic books aren't educational? Who says education is boring? This is the comic book version of classic 'People's History of the United States'. Comic books are the gateway to loving reading. This type of comic book is the gateway to loving truth.
This is kinda like a distilled version of A People's History, with a bit of Zinn's autobiography thrown in, but in graphic novel form! So awesome! It's a quick read but very fun.
Yes, a lot of horrible things were done in the name of the US. But after a few chapters the tone of this book became "only bad things have been done in the name of the US".
I happened upon this book on a staff picks shelf at my local library. Of course, the format caught my eye. I've read a few other graphic novels and had learned a bit about them at a teaching conference. Ever since, I've been curious about the artistic combination of words and pictures for "non comic strip" kinds of content. The pictures can really enhance understanding, the sense of story and retention.

This particular book was heavily focused on war, so the pictures could be quite unsettling (wh
The most effective part of this book is Zinn's own story of growing up as the son of immigrants, working to help build the USS Iowa, becoming a tailgunner on a WWII bomber crew, and eventually developing his growing sense that America was creating its own military empire, under FDR. His realization eventually leads him to go back to the roots of American imperialism, and this drive which always seems to be pushed by the lust for power and fed with lies.

The book illustrates, using simple graphic
My first dosage of "radical" material. Self proclaimed radical Zinn points towards the US government as a continuous suppressor of people in the foreign AND domestic arena. The format of his rhetoric is fantastic! The graphic novel is an interesting approach in and of itself. Being interested in history and art, I was immediatley intrigued by the book. Progressing throughout the book, I slowly became more disenfranchised with it. Zinn does a great job pointing out the evils of former and current ...more
Howard Zinn is the author of the excellent People’s History of the United States, and this is a graphical adaptation of much of the material in the book. It’s similar to the book Lies My Teacher Told Me, going through different events and talking about what most of us have been taught about history is usually full of factual errors.

He discusses the many events that have led the United States to go to war, how big business reacted when workers decided to form unions, and different cultural battle
While I knew most of the broad strokes of this history, I still found details that upset and taught me: in the invented Spanish American War “5,462 soldiers and officers died during the war, but only 379 of these were battle casualties. The rest died of disease or putrid food, including 500,000 pounds of rotting canned meat sold to the Army by Armour & Co of Chicago. Some tins were so foul they had burst.” (50)

I didn’t know that Mark Twain spent the last ten years of his life fighting the A
Konopacki and Buhle loosely base their graphic novel on Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, using a cartoon Zinn as the narrator of the most wincing episodes in America’s thirst and hunger for empire. Their targets include the internal conflicts of the U.S. (women’s suffrage, anti-labor efforts, the massacre at Wounded Knee, the Civil Rights era) as well as external ones (the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, Vietnam, the multifarious conflicts in both the Middle East and La ...more
This was the first historically-based graphic novel (comic book) that I've read in a while. Zinn is an excellent story teller, and connects the dots very well between American government military actions and large corporate business interests, bolstered by media (this is what he calls American "empire"). People who view American policies patriotically as mostly upright and moral will probably not read this book, though I think they would benefit from Zinn's heaping doses of healthy disillusionme ...more
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Howard Zinn was a historian, playwright, and social activist. He was a shipyard worker and Air Force bombardier before he went to college under the GI Bill and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He taught at Spelman College and Boston University, and was a visiting professor at the University of Paris and the University of Bologna. He received the Thomas Merton Award, the Eugene V. Debs ...more
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