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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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