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A People's History of the United States

Written by: Howard Zinn
Narrated by: Jeff Zinn
Length: 34 hrs and 8 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (29 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A classic since its original landmark publication in 1980, Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States is the first scholarly work to tell America's story from the bottom up - from the point of view of, and in the words of, America's women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, the working poor, and immigrant laborers.

From Columbus to the Revolution to slavery and the Civil War - from World War II to the election of George W. Bush and the "War on Terror" - A People's History of the United States is an important and necessary contribution to a complete and balanced understanding of American history.

©2009 Howard Zinn (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers

What the critics say

"Zinn's work is a vital corrective to triumphalist accounts." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Story is good; Narration so much

While the book itself is interesting, you can hear background noise (chatter, sipping, etc.) at times in the narration, which could annoy the listener

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Guy
  • 2019-02-24

Eye opener

This book really open my eyes to how we have all been dupped by our leaders. Very moving book that stirred me deeply. Should be read by everyone. It is one of these book you listen for a chapter or two, put it down and come back. Well worth the read.

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A Must Read

Even as a history major, my mind was still blown. This should be taught in schools.

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excellent information<br /><br />

real history. Howard Zinn R.I.P. was a wise man. stuck up for the people. beautiful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Karl Marx's History of the United States

My first impression of the book was that the author was telling the American story from the perspective of "the people" as the title and preface suggest. My second impression was that he was telling that story from the perspective only of the poor and down-trodden. After the second or third positive reference to Karl Marx, I realized that this is not a book trying to put a spotlight on the poor at all, but rather on the bourgeoisie and their oppression of the proletariat. In other words, this is a book about communism, thinly veiled.

I'm not a historian, but I've read enough letters and quotes from some of these figures to say that this author is putting a number of American heroes in their worst possible light, such that this book will give you far from a balanced, multi-lateral understanding of US history.

At times the author sounds like a conspiracy theorist, attributing the most nefarious motives to people like Madison, Jefferson, and Lincon, so far as to suggest the US constitution itself was a deliberate deception put on by the privileged few rich people to control the masses.

Insofar as a nation is defined by its values and ideals rather than its people, I think I can comfortably say that this author hates the United States of America, its founding document, its founders as people, and nearly all of its heroes. Cliché as this may sound, this author does not see the United States for the vanguard of freedom that it has been for the last century, and he thoroughly does not understand much less love the country he is writing about.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Thomas
  • 2010-11-09

Amateur hour in the production booth

This has to be the most poorly produced audiobook of all time. With a work of this length - roughly 35 hours - I understand there are several challenges in putting everything together, but here it's like whoever was doing the recording wasn't even trying. Consider. 1) Starting sometime between the 90 minute and 2 hour mark, a number of obvious and jarring cuts, with the narrator dropping out suddenly, and then resuming speech in the middle of a different sentence. This issue seems to settle down after roughly the 5 hour mark. 2) Different audio levels for different recording sessions. After a cut, the narrator returns notably louder or quieter, and with a different level of white noise in the background. 3) At the 5 hour and 46 minute mark, the narrator says "hold on", and then engages in a conversation with the recording engineer, and this was never edited out of the final product. This means the publishers didn't listen to this audiobook even one time for quality control before putting it out in the wild. Shameful, and this is a product of unacceptably low quality. 2 stars for the wealth of content and Jeff Zinn's effort in recording well over 30 hours of speech, but minus 3 stars for a final product that could have been put together better by a motivated middle schooler.

561 of 599 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Gavin St. Ours
  • 2010-05-04

Horrible Editing Ruins Experience

I was looking forward to listening to this audiobook, but as I worked my way through it, the horrible production quality ruined the experience for me.

Jeff Zinn's narration is fantastic, the subject matter interesting, but there are numerous spots where the audio editor chopped off half of a word. On a long car trip, these jarring "jump cuts" were too much to tolerate. Did nobody quality-check this audiobook before releasing it?

406 of 435 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Tallman
  • 2011-06-30

Terrible Production

I write only in regard to the production of the audiobook, not as to the text itself, which is great and worthy. The slovenliness of the recording, with gaps, repeats, and periods where the reader is obviously having a conversation with a third party (editor? recording technician?) are beyond the minor and forgivable. Are these things not edited? Vetted by quality control? Does no one bother to listen to an audiobook before it is mass-produced and distributed? If no one at the publisher does, then someone at Audible ought to.

202 of 226 people found this review helpful

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  • captainwaffles
  • 2018-07-25

history from the masses perspective

if you have not read or studied any history beyond what you learned in school this book was written for you. while it is not Secrets it is also not widely known that history is written for and by the dominant class and cultures of society. needless to say this paint over many things that are integral into what makes us us today. this book tells history from the average person's perspective which is really more indicative of how most people experience life as opposed to a small wealthy and Powerful minority.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • karltonwrites
  • 2010-05-24

A Must-Read

Few books have stirred such patriotic feelings in me. It's wonderful to to live in a country, that, despite its flaws, allows a book that goes against the grain of the "accepted narrative" to be printed.

Many will accuse Zinn of being biased, but that is the point. History is, by its nature, biased from a point of view. Zinn is writing a People's history, telling events from the points of view that have long been silenced. Anyone offended by this would be better suited for less literate works by gaseous pundits that bolster weak arguments rather than challenge the mind.

It is true that the audio book should have been edited before release. I noted one long swatch of narrative that was repeated (Were there long omissions? I may never know). Also entertaining was a long sound check that showed fascinating insights into the workings of the audiobook recording industry. However, the errors are few and shouldn't detract from an otherwise fascinating and vital work.

120 of 144 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bill
  • 2010-08-24

This is a great listen

Winston Churchill said that "History is written by the victors". This book is told from the losers side. Very well written and read. If you are interested in the truth about history, you should give this book a listen.

62 of 76 people found this review helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2013-01-30

The Narrator is not as bad as some have said...

I was hesitant to purchase this book due to some of the reviews regarding the narration. The Narrator was not as bad as some have said in my opinion but he was not great. This is a wonderful book and it is the book that carries the "meh" performance.

70 of 86 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-01-29

Good Counterweight to Textbook History

this book is a comprehensive look at the history of the United States from the vantage point of the Common People. Most all of history books that you read in school or that's commonly read are heavily patriotic and glorify the history by focusing on the good memories of the past that support the establishment. This book swings heavily in the other direction and focuses on the bad things that have happened to the common people. While certainly biased towards a socialistic leaning, I feel it is very important to hear another side of the story. as we all know there are two sides to every story and usually somewhere in the middle is the most truth. So read with an open mind but be prepared for a pessimistic story on capitalism.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • David S. Mathew
  • 2018-09-18

The Invisible Hand in American Politics

Howard Zinn lived from 1922 till 2010, meaning that his life encompassed nearly a quarter of all American history. In short, this history is Zinn’s attempt to explain the economic forces that have influenced American politics since before the founding of this country and that still exist today in more subtle forms. The book’s central thesis is that most (if not all) American wars were fought not in the name of democracy, but in order to achieve American economic dominance abroad and at home. Zinn’s history is unapologetically socialist, but his research and arguments are strong enough to survive any discrediting claims of bias on his part. Agree or disagree with Zinn, the ideas in this book are well worth the thought and consideration asked for.

As for the narration, this audiobook is read by Howard Zinn’s son, Jeff Zinn. Jeff is very clear, but also a bit dry at times. Still, the respect and passion he has for his father’s legacy shines through. Highly recommended.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • JB
  • 2011-09-08

Very poorly read

This is a very good thesis, but so poorly read, its painful.
One can even hear the narrator making unedited commentary within the body of the story. He often sounds like he is tired and out of breath. I think they were very stingy and cheap to have this man narrate the book...I feel like I wasted my money because I cannot listen to another sentence from the inept narrator. -0 stars...
I really wish I could return this audio book...REALLY POORLY NARRATED.

95 of 119 people found this review helpful