A People’s History of the United States
While reading a current issue of National Review,
I came across an article by Roger Kimball that is an obituary of sorts
written about Howard Zinn who died on January 27, 2010. It turns out
that Professor Zinn, the author of more than 20 books, is known
primarily for the textbook he authored, A People’s History of the United States,
which was first published in 1980. Zinn’s history textbook has sold
more than 2 million copies and, as of February 1, 2010, was ranked
number 7 on the Amazon best sellers list. According to Kimball, an
editor and publisher in his own right, A People’s History of the United States is “the textbook of choice in high schools and colleges across the country.”
was describing the contents and thrust of the Zinn book to a friend and
when he saw the cover he exclaimed, “Why that’s the book my daughter is
reading right now!”
And what does this history “textbook of choice” say about the United States? Here’s just a sampling…
In Chapter 4 titled “Tyranny is Tyranny,” dealing with the Founders of our Republic, Zinn states,
“They found that by creating a nation, a symbol, a legal unity called the
United States, they could take over land, profits, and political power…
In the process, they could hold back a number of potential rebellions
and create a consensus of popular support for the rule of a new,
“They created the most effective system of national control devised in modern times…”
In other words, the “Tyranny” Professor Zinn is referring to is the tyranny of the Founders of America!
In the same chapter, Professor Zinn addresses the
Declaration of Independence in which the signers pledged their lives,
their fortunes, and their sacred honor (all of which, except for honor,
some signers lost). Zinn, however, sees the Declaration in a different
“The Declaration…ignored the existing inequalities in property. And
how could people truly have equal rights, with stark differences in wealth?”
for the rule of law as a fundamental principle of human rights, Zinn
approvingly quotes from the English historian, Christopher Hill…
“…the rule of law…mainly benefited the men of property.”
American Revolution described in Chapter 5 is titled, “A Kind of
Revolution” and describes the father of our country, George Washington,
as “the richest man in America.” This is either poor research by author
Zinn, or what he would consider to be an intentional smear. While
certainly affluent, Washington was far, far from the richest man in
America. He wasn’t even the richest man in the Virginia Colony at the
time of the American Revolution. There are a total of five references
to George Washington in the text of the book, not one complimentary, and
few remotely accurate.
book treats President Abraham Lincoln as a self-serving pragmatist who
was forced to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. And Zinn’s dislike
(hatred?) of free markets and capitalism is captured in this apparently
rhetorical question: “Was [W.E.B.] Du Bois right—that in that growth of
American capitalism, before and after the Civil War, whites as well as
blacks were in some sense becoming slaves?”
Chapter 10, Zinn dismisses the free market economic system as “…an
economic system not rationally planned for human need, but developing
fitfully, chaotically out of the profit motive…” Clearly Zinn prefers a
top down, command and control economic system like Socialism over the
individual freedom approach of Capitalism. He chooses an autocracy over
a meritocracy. No wonder that, toward the end of the chapter,
Professor Zinn speaks approvingly of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, the
philosophical founders of Communism.
13 is titled, “The Socialist Challenge”, and indeed the socialists
described by Zinn in this chapter receive far better coverage and a more
positive review than any of our American Founders. The Chapter begins
with a quote from Emma Goldman on the Spanish-American war, “…the lives,
blood, and money of the American people were used to protect the
interests of the American capitalists.”
Professor Zinn goes on to speak with enthusiasm about the Socialist movement of the early 20th century.
“There was an idea in the air, becoming clearer and stronger,
an idea not just in the theories of Karl Marx but in the dreams
of writers and artists through the ages: that people might cooperatively
use the treasures of the earth to make life better for everyone, not
just a few.”
the many supposed heroes of the people (and of Zinn) described in the
book are an odd assortment of reds and socialists including Eugene V.
Debs, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Emma Goldman, W.E.B. Du Bois,Kate Richards
O’Hare, John Reed, Bill Hayward, William Z. Foster, Herbert Aptheker,
and Noam Chkomsky.
Professor Zinn’s take on World War II is perhaps the strangest of all.
“It was a war against an enemy of unspeakable evil. Hitler’s Germany
was extending totalitarianism, racism, militarism, and overt aggressive
warfare beyond what an already cynical world had experienced. And
yet, did the governments conducting this war—England, the United
States, the Soviet Union—represent something significantly different,
so that their victory would be a blow to imperialism, racism,
totalitarianism, militarism, in the world?”
Clearly, in the Professor’s mind, there was not much difference between Hitler’s Germany and the United States.
“For the United States to step forward as a defender of helpless
countries matched its image in American high school history textbooks,
but not its record in world affairs.”
“…blacks, looking at anti-Semitism in Germany, might not see
their own situation in the U.S. as much different.”
the book makes no mention whatsoever of the Holocaust undertaken by
Hitler to kill all the Jews in Grmany or any other country under his
surprisingly, Zinn dismisses as pure fantasy the well documented efforts
of the Soviet Communist apparatus to successfully penetrate the
government of the United States during World War II. Communist spies
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who passed along secrets which enabled the
Russians to build an atomic bomb, are portrayed as innocent victims.
Vietnam War is hailed as a victory for “a nationalist revolutionary
movement.” It is described by Zinn as “…organized modern technology
versus organized human beings, and the human beings won.” Never mind
the 50,000 American casualties suffered by the United States.
It is somewhat surprising that both Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton come in for very harsh coverage in A People’s History of the United States.
But, of course, the criticism is not because these U.S. Presidents were
too liberal, but because they were too timid in their leap to the
Zinn’s coverage of Ronald Reagan’s years in the White House is both factually inaccurate and very nasty.
“Corporate America became the greatest beneficiary of the
“Under Reagan and Bush, [their] concern for ‘the economy,’ which
was short-hand for corporate profit, dominated any concern for
workers or consumers.”
regard to the Reagan build up of the military (that had been
unilaterally dismantled under Carter, and which led to the demise of the
Soviet Union), Zinn states incorrectly that…
“Reagan tried to pay for this with cuts to benefits for the poor.”
reality, there were no cuts by President Reagan, only smaller increases
in welfare benefits which were mischaracterized by the media as “cuts.”
the biggest lie of all was the statement that, “Unemployment grew in
the Reagan years.” The fact is that Ronald Reagan inherited a “basket
case” economy from Jimmy Carter with unemployment rates above 10%.
Ronald Reagan’s tax rate reduction program brought unemployment down to
historic lows and thus increased revenues to the Federal Government.
yet finished with his trashing of Ronald Reagan, Zinn states, “By the
end of the Reagan years, the gap between rich and poor in the United
States had grown dramatically.” This is another assertion that is not
born out by the facts.
the silliest statement in the book is also about Ronald Reagan and has
to do with the media which was blatantly vicious and partisan in its
coverage of the President…
“The press was especially timid and obsequious during the
Professor Zinn must have been living on a different planet.
Chapter 23 of A People’s History of the United States is appropriately titled “The Coming Revolt of the Guards.”
I say the title is appropriate because the first sentence of the 23rd chapter reads:
“The title of this chapter is not a prediction, but a hope, which I
will soon explain.”
Professor Zinn’s thesis is that all those who have served in positions of power in
the United States, from our Founders to Ronald Reagan and even Bill Clinton, are
the “Guards” who have kept the masses down and have kept them from achieving
freedom and equality.
Listen to Zinn’s candid explanation of his purpose in writing this textbook:
“The American system is the most ingenious system of control in
Zinn openly says that he seeks a socialist revolution, the kind, “…the
governments of the United States, and the wealthy elite allied to them—from
the Founding Fathers to now—have tried their best to prevent.”
what, according to Zinn, is it that the Founders and the elite have
tried to prevent? They have tried “…to prevent the great upsurge of
In an urgent message, Professor Zinn goes on to argue that, “All of us have
become hostages in the new conditions of doomsday technology, runaway
economics, global poisoning, uncontainable war.”
seeks a utopia where, “…Americans might be ready to demand not just
more tinkering, more reform laws, another reshuffling of the same deck,
another New Deal, but radical change.”
In an almost fairy tale fashion, Zinn continues…
“The society’s levers of powers would have to be taken away from
those whose drives have led to the present state—giant corporations,
the military, and their politician collaborators. We would need—by
a coordinated effort of local groups all over the country—to reconstruct
the economy for both efficiency and justice, producing in a cooperative
way what people need most.”
“Everyone could share the routine but necessary jobs for a few hours
a day and leave most of the time free for enjoyment, creativity, labors
of love, and yet produce enough for an equal and ample distribution
of goods. Certain basic things would be abundant enough to be taken
out of the money system and be available—free—to everyone: food,
housing, health care, education, transportation.”
In order to reach this “utopia” Zinn advises…
“These struggles would involve all the tactics used at various times in
the past by people’s movements: demonstrations, marches, civil
disobedience; strikes and boycotts and general strikes; direct action to
redistribute wealth, to reconstruct institutions, to revamp relationships;
creating—in music, literature, drama, all the arts, and all the areas of
work and play in everyday life—a new culture of sharing of respect,
anew joy in the collaboration of people to help themselves and
This all may sound like utopia to Professor Zinn, but it sounds more like George Orwell’s “1984” to me.
In the Afterword of the text it becomes clear how Howard Zinn became such an unhinged radical:
“When I set out to write the book, I had been teaching history
and what is grandiosely called ‘political science’ for twenty years.
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.”
The foregoing words are the most honest words written in this
anti-American history textbook. They accurately summarize the intent
and the mission of Professor Howard Zinn in writing A People’s History of the United States and unfortunately how effective he has been in his mission.
this textbook actually in use? If you doubt that it is, please read
this excerpt from a review by a public high school history teacher that I
found on the Internet:
“For several years of the last decade, I taught Advanced Placement U.S.
History at a [public] high school… When I began the course, Zinn had
already been assigned by my predecessor, and I needed a counterpoint
to the main text (Bailey and Kennedy's bombastic, traditionalist, and
short-on-social history Pageant of the American Nation). Zinn's deftly
written book provided a fortunate antithesis to the ‘march of presidents
and industrial titans’ approach to American history. I found many chapters
of this book to be such excellent stimulants to class discussions that I
extended their use into my non-AP U.S. history classes, where students,
many of whom could not otherwise have cared less about history, found
themselves reading an interesting and provocative historian for the
first time in their lives. Many of the best discussions I ever had with my
classes (both AP and "regular") began with assigned chapters from Zinn.
From there, it was an easy step to move on to the idea of historiography
(the history of how history has been interpreted) and to decoupling
my students from thinking of the textbook as revealed wisdom.”
Although I have not yet read Pageant of the American Nation, I plan to purchase a copy. I actually own eight American History textbooks that are in use, not counting A People’s History of the United States, and
I can tell you that every one of them contains a decidedly liberal
slant. Not one text provides a balanced picture of the United States or
of great American leaders like Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and
Reagan. I’m confident that the history textbook, Pageant of the American Nation is no different. These are not textbooks that would make you proud to be an American.
wonder today’s young people have no regard for our Founders or our
American institutions. No wonder our President, educated by the likes
of men like Howard Zinn, bows to dictators and apologizes to the world
for the United States.
But don’t just get mad. Get the truth out.
pass this blog along to others and order a copy of Zinn’s book from
Amazon so you can see for yourself just how badly our children are being
Check to see
if your children or grandchildren are being brainwashed by Zinn’s tale
of lies and distortions. Whether the Zinn book is used as a primary text
or just as a secondary text, there is really no place for such a
dishonest book in our public schools. Ask, even demand, that this
unreliable, inaccurate book be eliminated from use in our public
schools. Call the fabrications and lies and misrepresentations of
Howard Zinn to the attention of your legislators.
the history books that your children and grandchildren are reading and
if they don’t offer a balanced view, ask your school board members why
they don’t use books that present an accurate view of the history of
this great nation.
don’t tell our children the truth about our great nation, they won’t
ever hear it. Worse yet, they won’t revere it. Please act today!