Chapter 17, " 'Or Does It Explode? Zinn argues that the government began making reforms against discrimination although without making fundamental changes for the sake of changing its international image, but often did not enforce the laws that it passed.
Zinn also argues that while nonviolent tactics may have been required for Southern civil rights activists, militant actions such as those proposed by Malcolm X were needed to solve the problems of black ghettos. Zinn argues that America was fighting a war that it could not win, as the Vietnamese people were in favor of the government of Ho Chi Minh and opposed the regime of Ngo Dinh Diem , thus allowing them to keep morale high.
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Meanwhile, the American military's morale was very low, as many soldiers were put off by the atrocities they were made to take part in, such as the My Lai massacre. Zinn also tries to dispel the popular belief that opposition to the war was mainly among college students and middle-class intellectuals, using statistics from the era to show higher opposition from the working class. Zinn argues that the troops themselves also opposed the war, citing desertions and refusals to go to war, as well as movements such as Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
People and events from the prison movement covered include George Jackson , the Attica Prison riots , and Jerry Sousa. Chapter 20, "The Seventies: Under Control? Zinn argues that the resignation of President Richard Nixon and the exposure of crimes committed by the CIA and FBI during the decade were done by the government in order to regain support from the American people without making fundamental changes to the system.
According to Zinn, Gerald Ford 's presidency continued the same basic policies of the Nixon administration. Bush administrations and their effects on both the American people and foreign countries. Zinn argues that the Democratic and Republican parties keep the government essentially the same, maintaining policies favorable for corporations and militant foreign policy whichever party was in power. Zinn uses similarities among the three administrations' methods to argue for this. Chapter 22, "The Unreported Resistance", covers several movements that happened during the Carter-Reagan-Bush years that were ignored by much of the mainstream media.
Chapter 23 , "The Coming Revolt of the Guards", covers Zinn's theory on a possible future radical movement against inequality in America. Zinn argues that there will eventually be a movement made up not only of groups previously involved in radical change such as labor organizers, black radicals, Native Americans, feminists , but also members of the middle class who are starting to become discontented with the state of the nation. Zinn expects this movement to use "demonstrations, marches, civil disobedience ; strikes and boycotts and general strikes ; direct action to redistribute wealth, to reconstruct institutions, to revamp relationships".
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Zinn argues that despite Clinton's claims that he would bring change, his presidency kept many things the same. Zinn argues that attacks on the U. Bush , but by grievances with U. Professor Zinn writes with an enthusiasm rarely encountered in the leaden prose of academic history, and his text is studded with telling quotations from labor leaders, war resisters and fugitive slaves.
There are vivid descriptions of events that are usually ignored, such as the Great Railroad Strike of and the brutal suppression of the Philippine independence movement at the turn of this century. Professor Zinn's chapter on Vietnam—bringing to life once again the free-fire zones, secret bombings, massacres and cover-ups—should be required reading for a new generation of students now facing conscription. Blacks, Indians, women, and laborers appear either as rebels or as victims. Less dramatic but more typical lives—people struggling to survive with dignity in difficult circumstances—receive little attention.
A People's History reflects a deeply pessimistic vision of the American experience. Foner called for "an integrated account incorporating Thomas Jefferson and his slaves, Andrew Jackson and the Indians, Woodrow Wilson and the Wobblies. Zinn was often taken to task for peeling back the rosy veneer of much of American history to reveal sordid realities that had remained hidden for too long. Herbert quotes from Zinn's account of the presidency of Andrew Jackson as an example of what he means.
Also writing for The New York Times , columnist Michael Powell praised the text's impact on changing the perspective of modern histories:. To describe it as a revisionist account is to risk understatement. A conventional historical account held no allure; he concentrated on what he saw as the genocidal depredations of Christopher Columbus, the blood lust of Theodore Roosevelt and the racial failings of Abraham Lincoln. He also shined an insistent light on the revolutionary struggles of impoverished farmers, feminists, laborers and resisters of slavery and war. Such stories are more often recounted in textbooks today; they were not at the time.
Writing in Dissent , Georgetown University history professor Michael Kazin argued that Zinn is too focused on class conflict , and wrongly attributes sinister motives to the American political elite. He characterized the book as an overly simplistic narrative of elite villains and oppressed people, with no attempt to understand historical actors in the context of the time in which they lived.
The ironic effect of such portraits of rulers is to rob 'the people' of cultural richness and variety, characteristics that might gain the respect and not just the sympathy of contemporary readers. For Zinn, ordinary Americans seem to live only to fight the rich and haughty and, inevitably, to be fooled by them.
Kazin argued that A People's History fails to explain why the American political-economic model continues to attract millions of minorities, women, workers, and immigrants, or why the socialist and radical political movements Zinn favors have failed to gain widespread support among the American public. Professional historians have often viewed Zinn's work with exasperation or condescension, and Zinn was no innocent in the dynamic.
I stood against the wall for a Zinn talk at the University of Oregon around the time of the Columbus Quincentenary.
Listening to Zinn, one would have thought historians still considered Samuel Eliot Morison 's book on Columbus to be definitive. The crowd lapped it up, but Zinn knew better. He missed a chance to explain how the social movements of the s and s have transformed the writing and teaching of history, how his People's History did not spring out of thin air but was an effort to synthesize a widely shared shift in historical sensibilities.
Zinn's historical theorizing, conflating objectivity with neutrality and position with bias, was no better. The critics would be churlish, however, not to acknowledge the moving example Zinn set in the civil-rights and Vietnam movements, and they would be remiss not to note the value of A People's History , along with its limitations. Zinn told tales well, stories that, while familiar to historians, often remained unknown to wider publics.
He challenged national pieties and encouraged critical reflection about received wisdom. He understood that America's various radicalisms, far from being "un-American," have propelled the nation toward more humane and democratic arrangements.
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And he sold two-million copies of a work of history in a culture that is increasingly unwilling to read and, consequently, unable to imagine its past very well. That America is not a better place—that it finds itself almost globally despised, mired in war, self-doubt and random violence—is also a fact, of course, but not one that Zinn's brand of history seems equal to.
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America Enters the War
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A People's History of the United States - Wikipedia
Riviere in full tree calf. All of the volumes have since been rebacked in brown leather with the original gilt-on-black labels laid on, except Volume 2, which has been rebacked in brown leather with the spine in six compartments separated by gilt borders, with the gilt title in one compartment, the volume number in one and the date in another. The labels on this volume have been hand written in gilt. The first preliminary page of this volume contains the following inscrip Publisher: Oxford, Oxford University Press: Green boards with gilt border and gilt medallion.
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Some water damage to bottom left corner from front to rear of volume, three-inch tear to front cover where it meets the spine, notes and underlining in pen throughout. By: Baigent, Michael and Richard Leigh. Publisher: London, Corgi Books: This is a new, unopened copy in excellent condition. Mass Market Paperback. By: Baigent, Michael, et al.