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My husband likes to read history, and when Howard Zinn died just a little while back, I discovered he had never read Zinn. I got him A People's History of the United States, and advised him to pick a chapter, any chapter, to catch the inimitable flavor of the author. Since it was early May, around Cinco de Mayo, I myself re-read the Chapter on the War with Mexico. Friend Husband read a sample chapter, and is now proceeding to read the entire book.
Last Edited on: 12/30/11 5:39 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Funny you mention this. Not toolong ago I got this one. Had it wishlisted for a long time just so I could get the absolutely straight dope on what it was lke, it having been napalmed ant then some by a current affairs poster-boy we know too well.
In Chapter One, I learned that early Spanish explorers and later the earliest white settlers treated the Native Americans most inhumanely. No doubt true.
Chapter Two is about slavery, particularly the North Atlantic Slave Trade. I have read more scholarly works on this subect than I have fingers, and I must say, even though it is only ten or so pages, it is the sloppiest and most distorted I have ever read, surpassing even Toni Morrison. e.g. "Perhaps one of every three blacks transported overseas died." One thing the English (damn their bloody eyes) did was keep very accurate records. A captain transporting slaves was paid only for delivering live slaves. The actual figures are 12-15%. Why does he so grossly misrepresent this? There is no need.
In Chapter Three I learned that some settlers owned just about everything and that they treated the majority, the ones who were indentured servants, transported criminals, or tradesmen without property most inhumanely, reducing them systematically to a condition little better than slaves.
That is the extent of what Zinn's People's History covers before 1776.
In Chapter Four and Five, covering roughly 1776-1800, I learn of what Zinn titles A Kind of Revolution. This revolution is mostly described as some sort of internal class struggle. Great Britain is rarely mentioned, and the only battle spoken of (for three sentences) is Yorktown where the British surrendered.
That is a synopsis of the material presented in Zinn's People's History 1492-1800, covering 100 pages. The book is 628 pages long, and I may of some perverse curiosity read it all. If it were labelled clearly An Alternate History...