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The Zen of Zinn: a Look at the First 3 Chapters of a People's History

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 06:28 AM
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Dr. Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States might be


  better titled A Proletarian’s History of the United States. In the first


  three chapters Zinn looks at not only the history of the conquerors,


  rulers, and leaders; but also the history of the enslaved, the


  oppressed, and the led. Like any American History book covering the time


  period of 1492 until the early 1760’s, A People’s History tells the


  story of the “discovery” of America, early colonization by European


  powers, the governing of these colonies, and the rising discontent of


  the colonists towards their leaders. Zinn, however, stresses the role of


  a number of groups and ideas that most books neglect or skim over: the


  plight of the Native Americans that had their numbers reduced by up to


  90% by European invasion, the equality of these peoples in many regards


  to their European counterparts, the importation of slaves into America


  and their unspeakable travel conditions and treatment, the callous


  buildup of the agricultural economy around these slaves, the


  discontented colonists whose plight was ignored by the ruling


  bourgeoisie, and most importantly, the rising class and racial struggles


  in America that Zinn correctly credits as being the root of many of the


  problems that we as a nation have today. It is refreshing to see a book


  that spends space based proportionately around the people that lived


  this history. When Columbus arrived on the Island of Haiti, there were


  39 men on board his ships compared to the 250,000 Indians on Haiti. If


  the white race accounts for less than two hundredths of one percent of


  the island’s population, it is only fair that the natives get more than


  the two or three sentences that they get in most history books....

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