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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
Categories: History, Americas
4.5 out of 5 stars (40 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
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Must Read!

I can’t think if there will be a better book to learn about the history of the united states. It is a must read! I’m forever grateful learned about the book through Lisa Ling on Tim Ferris’ Podcast.

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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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  • 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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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.

4 people found this 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.

733 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 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?

511 people found this helpful

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  • B. Austin
  • 2019-10-17

Why is everything a bummer?

I knew what to expect to a degree. Zinn is definitely to the left of the political spectrum and I honestly found his recounting of the colonial New World and early America to be refreshing. It wasn't necessarily a simpler time and politicians were never all that great. This book came out in 1980 and it's interesting to see what was a radical idea then (Columbus was a bad guy) is now well accepted. But when he got into WW2 the constant degrading of anything American finally got to me. I don't think he says one positive thing the whole book. If a positive outcome occurs, then it's glossed over because the real intent was actually bad. He repeats several falsehoods about WW2 and leaps over a pile of positives to focus on one negative. At that point I had to stop listening.

The narration is fine though. I don't know why people are so critical of it. Zinn's son is a perfectly good narrator and I had no problems with the editing. I'd like the content too if it wasn't so downbeat. There are some things he had an absolute right to be negative about (slavery, union busters, treatment of Blacks for 400 years) but even when things were positive he views them in too critical of a light.

12 people found this helpful

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  • mr w.
  • 2020-02-26

An effective advocate for a suppressed perspective

It certainly challenges the traditional narrative for US History. In my opinion, it was absolutely fascinating, tragic, and eye-opening. One of my all-time favorite books. Offers a completely different perspective on US History, that left me with a much greater appreciation for being an American, despite it shining a light on pieces of our history that are much more complicated and messy than the story that’s traditionally told.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Luke
  • 2020-02-27

Socialism propaganda

Interesting view of American history through the lense of a socialist. Too much preaching on why America is bad to be considered a true representation of history. Very biased.

10 people found this helpful

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  • flo pag
  • 2019-09-20

what an awful book

a liberal extremist version of history. there's so much wrong with this book, that you could write a series of ten volumes and might not be able to debunk all of the wrong written in here

10 people found this helpful

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  • David 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.

271 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-02-23

This should be a textbook

This book gives a raw description of the United States' history. It doesn't lionize the founding fathers or other American historical figures; rather, it shows them through a more objective lens. Excerpts of this book should be taught throughout American history classes. It highlights perspectives and events that tend to not get much mention in US history.

7 people found this helpful

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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.

30 people found this 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.

13 people found this helpful