This powerful survey was written as a response to a widespread demand for a serious general history of the United States from the time of Columbus to the present, written from a radical, non-establishment point of view. It was intended as a counterweight to the many conventional American histories which chronicle the country’s story through the activities of political leaders, heroes and saviours of the nation. Here instead is history ‘from the bottom up’. Powerful, fluent and argumentative, its vigorous reinterpretation of the American achievement, and its cost, has provoked debate amongst historians and laymen alike since it first appeared in 1980.
At that point its coverage ended, necessarily, with the 1970s. Now Howard Zinn has returned to his text, and in this eagerly awaited Second Edition has fully updated it with substantial coverage of the Carter, Reagan and Bush years, and with an Afterword on the Clinton presidency.
"Zinn has written a brilliant and moving history of the American people from the point of view of those who have been exploited politically and economically and whose plight has been largely omitted from most histories. …the book is an excellent antidote to establishment history. Seldom have quotations been so effectively used; the stories of blacks, women, Indians, and poor laborers of all nationalities are told in their own words. While the book is precise enough to please specialists, it should satisfy any adult reader."
LIBRARY JOURNAL (US)
"…he tells an important and neglected part of the truth"
Marcus Cunliffe, THE GUARDIAN
"…he succeeds admirably in his second objective of ‘disclosing those hidden episodes of the past when, even if in brief flashes, people showed their ability to resist, to join together, occasionally to win’. He may not be able to tell the story of America from dozens of conflicting perspectives…but he does reveal much about the people who are usually missing from American history textbooks: the Arawaks, Cherokees, the English settlers who fled starvation and oppression in the early colonies to live with the Indians, the landless Hudson River farmers, the Negro soldiers of several wars, the Wobblies, women workers, sharecroppers, Big Bill Haywood, Mother Jones, Cubans, Filipinos and Vietnamese."
Charles Glass, NEW STATESMAN
"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."
Eric Foner, NEW YORK BOOK REVIEW
Until his retirement, Howard Zinn was Professor of Political Science at Boston University, and his book – passionate, critical, even disrespectful as it can be – remains the work of a scholar as well as a radical.