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A People's History of American Empire

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  2,641 ratings  ·  292 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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Sep 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2000s, history
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
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I highly appreciate Howard Zinn, and thought I would know most of what was in the book. No, in fact there were quite a number of things that were either new or that expanded my knowledge.

I have been very interested lately in that fork in the road taken in the 1890's when Teddy Roosevelt, William Randolph Hearst and others successfully argued for the imperialism road. This book expanded my knowledge of the US war in Cuba and in the Philippines.

Also included is a fascinating section on Zoot Suits
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Howard Zinn is not afraid to point out the darker moments in American history. This graphic novel highlights some of those moments. These moments are shared so that readers may be aware of how America has not lived up to its potential in order that they may make changes to improve its future. The final message is hopeful, as long as citizens remain vigilant. The only negative point for me is that the art could have been better.
Jul 15, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: graphic-novels
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
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
When I picked it up, I thought it would be a good way to discover Zinn's vision of History, since I read bits and pieces of it before but no complete work. Well... Though being a leftist myself, I hope this is not a good example of Zinn's thought.
All I've read in this book was heavily biased; the premise is clearly that the USA have tried for the last century to establish a world empire, through aggressive trade strategies, "liberation" wars, etc. It is undeniable, yes.
But it is presented thro
Jul 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Nov 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 06, 2018 rated it liked it
If you have enjoyed Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, then A People’s History of an American Empire is just as enjoyable. Like the latter, it will piss you off but in a Howard Zinn appreciating way. Appreciating in the sense of an actual account of America’s past and not some anti-intellectual writing in service of the State to white-wash its history of crimes. The content in this book was a 5, the same rating his first book received but I’m giving this one a 3 due to the vibrant c ...more
Paul Schulzetenberg
Apr 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
This is a retelling of A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present in comic book form, with an emphasis on American foreign policy that downright imperial. And we're not talking classic American soft power here, where we send Coke and McDonald's in order to get people to buy American products in an effort to spread our cultural values. Rather, we're talking about a cynical examination of American international actions like the Spanish-American war, Manifest Destiny, Iran Contra, and ...more
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
The first thing that I feel obliged to tell everyone is that this is a much easier read than I every anticipated. A challenging and thought provoking read certainly, but compared to many other political (and none political) comics I have struggled to slog through, this one was extremely accessible. The panels are even a bit on the too big side really, but this means the art and text were extremely clear and easy to follow. The text blocks never got too overly-long, and the pacing kept things mov ...more
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults.
Recommended to Helen by: No-one.
I enjoyed this graphic adaptation of Zinn's work. The drawings were effective though not particularly special but the writing and the conceit of having Zinn deliver the entire book as part of a lecture, was compelling, and definitely hooked me in to keep reading avidly. This book covers all aspects of US imperialism, deception, arrogance etc. throughout history, from Vietnam to Central America, and beyond. Here is a listing of actions covered: Wounded Knee, Antonio Maceo & the Cuban Revolution, ...more
Oct 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Carol Storm
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
You know what I really hated about this book? It wasn't the cheap shots at America, Capitalism, and the United States Marine Corps. I mean, I know who Howard Zinn is. As Jim Garrison says in Oliver Stone's JFK, "What do you expect from a pig but a grunt?"

No, what shocked me wasn't the mean cheap shots and lies. It was the sentimentality and hypocrisy. Because believe it or not, Howard Zinn and his punk grade school posse actually bend over backwards NOT to attack certain institutions. As tough a
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sharon by: May
Shelves: comics
I've had difficulty with reading A People's History and I'm really glad that this comic adaptation exists. It combines some of the 20th century content with information from Zinn's memoir to depict a bunch of key chapters in modern American history. Despite the epilogue, it's hard for me to see much cause for hope. The book focuses on the parts of history that are too often overlooked in schools, which means it's relentlessly bleak and shows horror after horror that's been perpetrated by the US ...more
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book starts with 9/11 and goes back to how America started to gain an empire before the turn into the 1900s. It's a startling read for anyone, like myself, who doesn't realize just how much the American government and army has done around the world towards other countries, other people. This graphic novel adaptation puts things in picture form that words alone can't do justice. It makes me want to read the actual book by Howard Zinn, and others, to find out the darker side of American histo ...more
Chris Miller
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a great Graphic Novel using history as its basis. This takes a lot of Howard Zinn work as the basis for a readable, understandable, and entertaining look at the growth of the United States, warts and all. As with all of his work, there are elipses that undermine some arguments because they don't present the entire picture. It seems to me he does this because there is so much done on the other side of many arguments that it gets lost in the discussion. This was given to me as a gift, and I r ...more
Jane Mueller
Nov 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must read if you live in the United States. Condensed history that you need to know!
Krista Turner
Sep 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Talk about a throw down. This isn't the history we learned in school . . . I would classify this as a much-needed punch to the gut.
Jul 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a social studies teacher, this book blew my mind about how I was taught and teach history. I'm grateful I live in America with its freedoms and liberties, but holy smokes our country as a sordid past that makes me cringe at the injustices done to others.

The graphic novel format was extremely well done.
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
May 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Emilia P
May 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: comic-books
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,
Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Carol Chapin
Mar 30, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a graphic novel that is based on Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States”. The latter book attempts to write a more honest version of America history than is usually presented, including the darker parts of our history. I found the graphic novel well-drawn and moderately interesting. I was aware of most of the subjects discussed, but this book did give detail that I hadn’t been aware of. The history starts with the massacre at Wounded Knee and goes chronologically through ...more
Sep 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 05, 2008 rated it it was ok
Boooooo. I regret having to rate this book so poorly--I'm a big fan of Zinn and desparately wanted to love this book--but I was agitated the whole time I read it. The art is bad, and the format (mainly, Zinn lecturing) is boring and not at all compelling. It could have been so awesome (comics! history! Zinn!) but instead was a huge disappointment. Sad.
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Howard Zinn was a historian, playwright, and social activist. He was a shipyard worker and a bombardier with the U.S. Army Air Force in Europe during the Second World War before he went to college under the GI Bill and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Zinn taught at Spelman College and Boston University, and was a visiting professor at the University of Paris and the University of Bolo

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