Howard Zinn: Worthy read?

I’m not sure if this is in right forum as its not really Art or Entertainment. Still, it is a couple of books. A number of people have suggested I read Howard Zinn. Is a People’s History of America worth reading for a non-North American? If so, why? Should I just read The Zinn Reader? How academic is his material reading-wise?

I’ve read some of Chomsky’s media commentaries and read Marshall McCluhan plus a few other non-light reading books for both educational and pure interest purposes.

I read it in college, so my memory ain’t so great. It’s extremely propagandistic, but I guess you knew that already. Zinn spins a weird Bizarro-world version of American history in which the American Revolution was the conspiracy of a landed aristocracy (Washington, Jefferson, et al) to oppress the working classes (the Whiskey Rebellion)…stuff like that, rewriting American history so as to always present America in the worst possible light. Mine isn’t just some cranky right-wing opinion, if you actually read the book you’ll see what I mean…the entire goal of his book is to provide an “alternative” history, that is to try and prove the opposite of the conventional wisdom about everything. It can be an interesting point of view, but when he starts going off about how WWII was purely a colonialist war for profit for the Allies and stuff like that, you know you have to take anything he says with a massive grain of salt.

Zinn is great.

i strongly recommend checking it out. he is, undoubtedly, one of the most thorough and compelling political writers of the day.

his slant does tend to piss off those who think the USA has not and never will do anything wrong.

read it. you won’t regret it.

I’d start with The Zinn Reader and then move on to People’s History if you’re interested. My favorite is Failure to Quit. As far as how academic he is, it really depends on the audience he’s trying to reach (People’s History is written more for “the people”). I think he’s easier to follow than Chomsky.

ANYTHING is easier to read than Chomsky…lol

everytime i attempt to get through a Chomsky book i end up questioning my own intellect and ability to comprehend anything…lol

I have a teachers edition of Peoples history. It has lesson plans after each chapter. I would really love to use it, but my 5 year olds prefer duck duck goose and teacher says. sigh

The book isn’t just Zinn going off on his left-wing opinions. It really is a “peoples history” with accounts from people that were actually there, seeing all this bullshit happening around them. Very interesting and very sad at the same time. He’s always updating it, so the one I have goes all the way up to the Clinton years. Maybe a newere one will have George W. in it. Anyway, worth a read.

Chomsky makes my brain hurt.

My high school US History teacher assigned us Zinn. If you can write so that high schoolers can comprehend history, it can’t be all that bad.

After Good Will Hunting came out Matt Damon recorded an abridged version of A People’s History that you should be able to download. It’s worthwhile. Failure to Quit is a nice, short intro to Zinn, but for even even quicker intro, try a search of Znet. (

I personally think his taped lectures are more fun than his essays. But yes, He is a great read.