know enough to be outraged by slavery. I don’t agree (i.e. I think it’s horseshit) to the droll explanation of economics and time and place that makes slavery in the U.S. into some understandable economic phase. It’s as if we consider that our country is a human being and the slavery phase was when it was rebelliously and petulantly thirteen.
We had steam engines, telegraphs, and iron-working to the point where we could build metal ships. And still we had people in chains? I mean, WTF?
So that didn’t surprise me. But everything else in Howard Zinn’s massive A People’s History of the United States did. In a nutshell (nothing in this thick book was in a nutshell, alas), he looks at allllll the history your little schoolbooks and Patriot movies leaves out. Like the complete destruction of the natives by the gold-hungry Spaniards. And the elitism of the founding fathers. And the sporadic rebellions against the injustices of wealth. Slavery, of course. Indian massacres, of course. Injustice to women, blacks, anyone of any color, anyone without money, anyone and everyone around the world, up through the world wars, Korea, Vietnam (shit, ducks in a barrel, there), to the current day with business-backed republicans and hold-their-coats-democrats, it’s all here in 688 pages.
Yes, Howard Zinn shows us the America we don’t know, of the injustice and imperialism and campaigns for wealth. Yes, you may clutch your flag and denounce around a mouthful of apple pie that it isn’t true but it is. Just as people and corporations have secrets best left hidden, so do nations. The victors write the history books, after all. Well, not this one.
My only problem with it was, as mentioned about, the 688 pages of length. Zinn doesn’t pick the best examples of a indignity to denounce – he lists them all. So, when you go to the second-class citizenship of women, it’s pages and pages. Interesting, it’s a People’s history that most people won’t be able to get through – it took me a month of solid reading to get to the end page. I’ve watched my comfortable backlog of reviews slowly drain away.
But it’s good. Really good. And if you have a feeling, when you look out over what our nation is and hear the screaming debates about guns and climate and foreign policy and our ongoing endless wars, this will give you a good idea about how that came to be. I recommend it to the stout of heart and the comfortable of outlook.
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