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A People's History of the United States

basilisk

TRIBE Member
It seems as if I inadvertantly tripped over an incredibly contraversial book when I took a friend's recommendation and picked up Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. I didn't even realize it until I googled it and found the crazy reviews over at Amazon. Crikey! Some people have a real hate-on for this book.

For me, it's been a very interesting read... it's sort of ceaselessly horrifying, like watching a slow motion car crash, but fascinating in the same way. I'm not daft enough to take it straight; he's clearly up to the same tricks as Michael Moore was in F911 when he said like three words about Saddam Hussein and left it at that. There's something missing from most accounts... but the missing stuff is what one was supposed to learn in school I suppose. Now I look back and realize my knowledge of American history is quite foggy... some guys with funny hats landed at Plymouth Rock to make cereal and later burned a bunch of ergot-eating crazies for being witches, then there was a civil war which was all over slavery, then the Federal Reserve Bank was created by baby-eating shape-changing lizards and Woodrow Wilson, then World War 1... so yeah, there's a fuck of a lot missing in that account, and even then, it's more than I ever learned in school. I mean, what brainless idiot decided it was a good idea to learn history backwards anyway? No wonder people get out of high school barely able to write. Anyway... what spurned me on to write this post was the account of the Haymarket Riot (http://www.everything2.net/index.pl?node_id=500812 or wikipedia for a less incendiary account (roofle)). It's like a lot happened in between John Wilkes Booth assassinating the Lincoln simulacra and the USA kicking Spain's ass again, you know? This is the shit they don't teach you in school when you're baked out of your mind and doodling in your textbooks. If I had been paying attention I probably would have learned about the Manitoba Schools Question or something lame like that. Anyway.

What do people think of the book? I mean, aside from it being an un-American piece of politically correct Marxist propaganda made to rot the minds of the young. Is this guy batshit crazy or just some kind of demon from the abyss?

More Zinn up in your craw, right here:
http://www.geocities.com/howardzinnfans/online_works.html
http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Zinn/HZinn_page.html
 
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Deep_Groove

TRIBE Member
Zinn is good at talking about the things he prefers to emphasize...

the problem is, sometimes the real world is more complicated than can be analyzed with selective facts and lazy assumptions. He also holds certain key erroneous premises in judging situations. The conclusions he draws can't be trusted.
 

~atp~

TRIBE Member
Deep_Groove said:
Zinn is good at talking about the things he prefers to emphasize...

the problem is, sometimes the real world is more complicated than can be analyzed with selective facts and lazy assumptions. He also holds certain key erroneous premises in judging situations. The conclusions he draws can't be trusted.

That's an extraordinarily vague and generic thing to say, even by your standards, SI.

I've read this book twice, and despite the criticism, it's very valuable literature. Zinn is extremely clear in describing his motives for writing the book, and carefully outlines his biases in the introductory pages. His arguments are couched in the cynical notion that a lot of American (domestic and foreign) policy are driven by elite interests and not those of "the people". He describes the results of these decisions from the perspective of the people, which is where the most significant rewards of the book can be found. Criticism is usually directed at his cynical view of the "powerful elite" and his unwillingness to tackle some of the other power dynamics that the government was forced to deal with when making decisions.
 

DaPhatConductor

TRIBE Promoter
the underground history of american education is a good one too. written by a former teacher of the year john taylor gatto, it unearths what he calls the 'leviathan' an entity so disturbing that he could no longer continue in his profession...

www.johntaylorgatto.com
 

~atp~

TRIBE Member
DaPhatConductor said:
the underground history of american education is a good one too. written by a former teacher of the year john taylor gatto, it unearths what he calls the 'leviathan' an entity so disturbing that he could no longer continue in his profession...

www.johntaylorgatto.com
Yes, you can read it freely online. His arguments are pretty one-sided and not nearly as academic, but it is pretty straightforward to separate the opinion from interesting anecdotes and historical background. I would also recommend "Deschooling Society" by Ivan Illich.
 
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