Books I Loathed discussion

Loathed Titles > People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present

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message 1: by Carlton (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:56AM) (new)

Carlton (methuselaschild) | 1 comments by Howrad Zinn.

I don't know why teachers would make kids read a book about America written by someone with so little clarity. By God! How I wish Will Durant could have lived another 5 years so he could write a real history of the Americas...
Here is part of an interview of Howard Zinn and Talk show host Dennis Prager:

Entire transcript:


DP: I believe that we [Americans:] fought in Korea in order to enable at least half of that benighted peninsula to live in relative freedom and prosperity; the half that we did not liberate is living in the nightmare, almost Nazi-like, condition of the North Korean government. Why don't you see that as a great good that Americans did?

HZ: I think that your description of the North Korean government is accurate. It's sort of a monstrous government. But when we went to war in Korea the result of that war was the deaths of several million people. And I question whether the deaths . . . were worth the result. . . .

DP: If America had never intervened, do we both agree that Kim Il-sung, the psychopathic dictator of North Korea, would have ruled over the entire Korean peninsula?

HZ: I think that's probably true.

DP: Do you believe that that would be a net moral or immoral result for the Korean people and the world?

HZ: That would have been an immoral result, but the result of the war itself was also immoral -- I'm talking about the killing of several million people. And what I'm suggesting is that the answer to . . . tyrannies like that is not war, which in our time always involves the massive killing of innocent people. . . . I think we have to find ways other than war to get rid of dictatorships and tyrannies.

DP: I would love that. But this is where we often consider people on the Left, at best, to be naive. . . . Let's talk about that naivete. You believe that there would have been another way to get rid of the Korean communists -- whom we both agree are monstrous -- as opposed to the Korean War. . . . This is the naivete of the Left, that ugly things can be gotten rid of in sweet ways.

HZ: Not sweet ways. I wouldn't say that. And I wouldn't say either in totally peaceful ways . . . by struggle and resistance but not by war. We have historical examples of what I'm talking about. The Soviet Union, Stalinism, was not overthrown by war. . . . Stalinism was really replaced, in time, by the Russian people themselves. . . . What I'm suggesting is that there are a number of places in the world where we have had tyrannies that have been overthrown without war. . . .

DP: Yes, there are. No one would deny that. And there are historical examples of where war is the only way to achieve a moral end.

HZ: Well, I'm not sure that's the only way.

DP: Was there another way to have gotten rid of Hitler?

HZ: In the case of WWII, I don't know what it would have taken to get rid of Hitler. We certainly had to resist him, we certainly had to get rid of him. . . . What bothers me most today is that people use WWII as an example for what we should do today. It's a very different situation.

DP: No, we use it as an example of where war is the moral choice. Are you prepared to say that war is ever the best moral choice?

HZ: No.

DP: Never. Not even against Hitler?

HZ: Well, I'm not sure about WWII.

DP: Wow . . .

message 2: by Laura (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:56AM) (new)

Laura (laurahogan) I don't know of any elementary or high schools that have "made" kids read this book. In every case I've ever heard of, people read it in college, if they read it as part of an assignment at all. I'd be curious to hear about el-hi curricula that include this book, if you know of any.

Also, are you commenting on the book, or on this Dennis Prager interview with Zinn?

message 3: by Lady3jane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:04PM) (new)

Lady3jane | 1 comments Laura, just to provide an example, one of the US History classes at my high school was required to read this book.

As I recall, everyone I knew in the class loved the book and that's one of the reasons I am reading it now (over a decade later). So far I'm really enjoying it too.

message 4: by Mouse (new)

Mouse | 18 comments I liked some parts of it, but I got sick of the constant theme that any reform passed was a calculated plot by the bougeoise to keep the proletariat from overthrowing them and creating a socialist utopia.

message 5: by Grace (new)

Grace | 22 comments I've never read the book. But just to respond to Laura. Yes, there are highschools that assign this book, my friend just finished reading it for her US History class.

message 6: by Chelsea (new)

Chelsea (chelsealane) | 2 comments My high school history class used it as a supplementary textbook, to provide another point of view on a lot of lesser known events in the country's history. I wouldn't take Zinn's word as law, so to speak, but I think he serves a very important purpose - not all history makes it into the official history books. He provided some great jumping off points for debates.

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