Steve H's Reviews > A People's History of the United States: Highlights from the Twentieth Century

A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn
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's review
Aug 08, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 973, history, populism
Read from August 08 to 23, 2011

Zinn provides a history of many aspects of 20th century US from the point of view of ordinary people, oppressed people, the poor, the disenfranchised, and the losers rather than the traditional monolithic view that takes the perspective of the winners, the leaders, and the elites. In so doing we're given a view of history not found in most history texts. Zinn's history is for the most part not the usual, passive "a war was fought" or "conflicts occurred" view of the past. Instead he portrays actors, some noble, some with few or no morals, actively creating history.

Having said that, this work, perhaps because of its abridgement for audio, leaves out some details that would be useful in understanding historic events. When Zinn says that civil rights activists were arrested or jailed, it would be helpful to know why they were arrested or jailed. If somebody is attacked, what were the motives for attacks? Are the underdogs always blameless victims?

There are those who will not like Zinn's focus on illegal and immoral actions of government officials or his neutral or favorable assessments of people or forces once deemed radicals or traitors, but this part of our history needs to be read and understood lest we continue to suffer similar travesties.

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