A People’s History of the United States 1492 to Present By Zinn Howard


A people’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present

Zinn, Howard


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A People’s History of the United States 1492 to Present By Zinn Howard. I am often asked how I came to write this book. One answer is that my wife Roslyn urged me to write it, and continued to urge me at those times when, daunted by the magnitude of the project, I wanted to abandon it. Another is that the circumstances of my own life (which, as I now write, has spanned a fourth of the nation’s history-a startling thought) demanded of me that I try to fashion a new kind of history. By that I mean a history different from what I had learned in college and in graduate school and from what I saw in the history texts given to students all over the country. When I set out to write the book, I had been teaching history and what is grandiosely called “political science” for twenty years. A people’s History of the United States, Half of that time I was involved in the civil rights movement in the South (mostly while teaching at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia). And then there were ten years of activity against the war in Vietnam. These experiences were hardly a recipe for neutrality in the teaching and writing of history. But my partisanship was undoubtedly shaped even earlier, by my upbringing in a family of working-class immigrants in New York, by my three years as a shipyard worker, and by my Air Force duty as a bombardier in the European theater (a strange word for that-“theater”) in the second World War. That was all before I went to college under the GT Bill of Rights and began to study history. By the time I began teaching and writing, A people’s History of the United States, I had no illusions about “objectivity,” if that meant avoiding a point of view. I knew that a historian (or a journalist, or anyone telling a story) was forced to choose, out of an infinite number of facts, what to present, what to omit. And that decision inevitably would reflect, whether consciously or not, the interests of the historian. A people’s History of the United States.



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