The most widely read historian in America today is Howard Zinn, whoseA popular history of the United Statesit sold more than 2.6 million copies. Zinn's vision of American history is seeping into school curricula across the country and, as Mary Grabar warns, becoming the "dominant narrative" in many places. The narrative is stark and blunt - people should be ashamed of their story. The history of the abuse of the weak by the powerful is at the heart of America. The United States is not, as Abraham Lincoln emphasized at Gettysburg, a "free begotten nation committed to the principle that all men are created equal." .
Zinn's influence has been furthered by groups like the Zinn Education Project, which supplement his book with documentaries, dramatizations, workshops for teachers and librarians, and dozens of side volumes. There are graphics settings likebeginner can,dramatic public pewter readings and a pewter book fair. When there is opposition to shrinking the education system, such as when a state legislature considered a bill to keep Zinn's materials out of taxpayer-funded schools, these groups mobilize. You could call it the Militant Tin Industrial Complex
The goal of Grabar's book is to expose the blatant and destructive lies that pervade Howard Zinn's story. As she convincingly sums up, Zinn presents America, the freest nation in world history, as a murderous, tyrannical, imperialist regime. ...he did it by lying, distorting and abusing the evidence, hijacking the work of other historians and falsifying the facts, as we have seen time and time again. The problem is not that she wrote, as Zinn was fond of stating in his own defense, a "people's story," telling the bottom-up story of abandoned and forgotten men and women. The problem is that thefalsificationAmerican History (p. 250, emphasis added).
Zinn's book opens with "Columbus, the Indians and Human Progress," a chapter that clarifies his point: "The history of any country, presented as a family story, hides violent conflicts of interest... between conquerors and vanquished, masters and slaves, capitalists and workers, rulers and ruled by race and sex. And in a world this conflictive, a world of victims and executioners, it is the task of thinking people... not to side with the executioners (Howard Zinn),A Popular History of the United States from 1492 to the Present,New York: HarperCollins, 2003, p. 10). But, as Grabar clearly shows, Zinn was often on the side of the executioners, like the men who ruled the Soviet Union. Correspondingly idyllic, Zinn paints the pre-Columbian New World and downplays even the ritual murder of thousands by the Aztecs because their cruelty...did not extinguish a certain innocence (Zinn, p. 11). A more balanced account would include estimates of more than 80,000 human sacrifices at the "consecration" of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan, just three decades before Hernán Cortés destroyed that evil empire. Any fair story would not confuse Christopher Columbus with violent and ruthless conquistadors like Cortés. Even an honest history could not draw a straight line from the Spanish conquest of Central and South America to the British colonization of North America. But tin does all these things. (The disparities between Spanish and British actions in the United States are so stark that initial conditions had profound effects on later divergences between their areas of settlement that continue to this day. An influential study is Stanley L. Engerman and Kenneth L Sokoloff, "Factor Endowments: Institutions and Different Growth Paths Among New World Economies: A View of US Economic Historians," in Stephen Haber, ed.,How Latin America fell behind, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997. This interpretation demonstrates that the inequality of wealth, human capital, and political power in Latin America arose from the ability of a small elite of Europeans to seize control of areas of high population concentration, such as the Aztecs. and Inca empires or sugar-producing slave colonies. Settlements in the United States and Canada were much more egalitarian because the land was sparsely settled and the native population could not be employed.)
After a brief synopsis of Zinn's upbringing and career (including an episode in which he lost his job after being found late one night in a parked car with a student at a dead end far from his destination), Record focuses on a subset of chapters at Zinnsfolk storythe chapters that mainly focus on race and war. Zinn's enlightened readers have always caught up with the mischaracterizations of him, but the core of Grabar's achievement is simply cataloging and refuting the fabrications of him and demonstrating the vastness of him. For example, Zinn's bizarre claim that George Washington is the richest man in America is bracketed and dropped. Zinn's suggestion that slavery in the capitalist United States was the worst in history is belied by the compelling demographic fact that only a small fraction of the slaves shipped to the New World made it to the United States, but more than a third of the slave population in the Year 1825 lived there. Zinn's suspicion that Malcolm X was likely closer to the mood of the black community than those peacefully marching in Washington, DC is belied when Grabar cites surveys of African-Americans, one of which found that only 6% of blacks believed that Malcolm X did "what is best". ” for black Americans (p. 194). Likewise, Zinn dismisses the achievements of black anti-communist leader A. Philip Randolph and his successful efforts to pressure Franklin Roosevelt to create the Fair Employment Practices Committee to end flagrant discrimination in the defense industry, saying that that has changed little. Grabar rebuts Zinn by citing research by economic historian William Collins. (A few pages later, while chiding Zinn's lack of consternation at the lives lost in the urban riots of the late 1960s, he could have cited additional research by Collins and his co-author Robert Margo showing that these riots were significant and depressing median value of black property.)
I regularly teach in a program designed to teach research in economic history to university professors. Some professors in the program suggested that the forced labor practiced in colonial America was nothing more than slavery in disguise. What is the source of this peculiar reading? A professor referred me to Howard Zinn. Zinn's chapter, People of Vile and Abominable Status, demonstrates the same tactics highlighted by Grabar. He claims that the indentured workers who left Europe for the United States were largely by baiting, promising and lying, by kidnapping...forced to honor their contracts (Zinn, p. 43). It selectively draws on the respected work of Abbot Smith, but ignores Smith's general conclusion that "the fetid reputation that domestic commerce has acquired in most historical accounts is partly undeserved, and stems from the testimonies of those who they see as an attempt to oppress business, those people who were employers in Britain and did not want their labor supply to decline as they searched for opportunities on the other side of the Atlantic (Abbott Emerson Smith,Settlers in Bondage: White Serfdom and Doomed Labor in America, 1607-1776,Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1947, p. 7). Zinn denounced the exploitation of indentured servants, but his main source concluded that the servant felt well protected from capricious and excessive exploitation (Smith, p. 19). By denying the brave men and women who fought in any agency, Zinn refuses to admit that indentured servitude was a win-win solution to the rigid constraints hard-working people faced in all aspects of business.
Zinn suggests that the serfs were loaded onto ships with the same fanatical greed for profit that characterized slave ships. When the weather was bad and the journey took a long time, they ran out of food. the sloopstunned, which sailed from Belfast in 1741, spent 16 weeks at sea, and by the time it reached Boston, 46 of its 106 passengers had starved to death (Zinn, p. 43). With a bit of research, I learned that the problem with thestunnedwas that "death overtook the ship, including the ship's captain together with all but one crew, leaving the passengers adrift in the middle of the passage" and the ship was unable to sail (Pennsylvania Historical Society,An 18th century cannibal immigration ship.). The cause of this tragedy had nothing to do with the mistreatment of these contract employees.
Read other economic chapters on Zinnsfolk history,there are numerous misrepresentations and errors. In the chapter "Robber Barons and Rebels," for example, Zinn tells us that by 1892 "the open country had disappeared." The last acre of available farmland [had] now passed into private or corporate ownership (Zinn, p. 282). The facts contradict this.US historical statistics(Susan Carter et al. New York: Cambridge University Press, Vol. 3, 3-351, series Cf77) show that the peak years for property receipts were between 1900 and World War I. (Technically, Zinn isn't doing this directly. Significantly, he's quoting someone else in context, in this case, a novel, so the error isn't his per se.) Zinn goes on to state that "harvesting wheat is a forced machine." to tie up the wheat... which the farmer had to buy on credit, knowing that in a few years the [money] would be doubly hard to come by. ... In the South the situation was worse than elsewhere - 90 percent of the peasants lived on credit - (Zinn, p. 287). These claims are absolutely silly. Machine prices fell during this time, and interest rates certainly did not double. In fact, data on farmers' terms of trade (crop prices compared to the prices of things farmers buy) show that by the end of the 18th century,A New Economic Perspective on American History,second edition, New York: W. W. Norton, 1994). Likewise, Zinn's claim that 90% of southern farmers live on credit is completely unfounded. And this is where Zinn says that the Supreme Court refused to "break up the monopolies of Standard Oil and American Tobacco" (Zinn, p. 260). Wow...they dismantled Standard and American Tobacco in 1911. More importantly, the chapter makes no mention of the vast and steep rise in labor standards during this period, the magnet that drew so many people to our shores.
My point is that Mary Grabar has only scratched the surface of the inaccuracies and distortions in Zinn's book. Ideally, someone would create a website summarizing all of Zinn's flaws. If you google "Howard Zinn Mistakes" or "Howard Zinn Mistakes" you'll find plenty to work with and Grabar's book tops the list. But a single platform for correcting Zinn's mistakes would be even more helpful, especially to students assigned to Zinn's book who sense his cynical bias and find it "fundamentally and grossly dishonest" (Record, p. xiii). , and notice that you're full of inaccuracies, but you don't have the time or energy to go through all your fabrications. If such a platform existed, students would quickly find it and cite it profusely, forever defying Zinns' infiltration.folk storyin the American education system and stop the tin avalanche. In his absence, Grabar's book is the reader's best defense against Zinn and his minions.
Robert M Whaples
Universidad Wake Forest
What is Zinn's point of view about history? ›
Zinn wanted to write a people's history because he believed that a national history serves only to justify the existence of the nation, which means, mainly, that it lies, and if it ever tells the truth, it tells it too fast, racing past atrocity to dwell on glory.What is the main point that Howard Zinn is trying to make in writing a people's history of the United States? ›
Zinn's main purpose for writing A People's History of the United States was to present the history from the point of view of the common people rather than from the point of view of historians or politicians.What is Zinn's approach to the study of history? ›
The Zinn Education Project approach to history starts with the premise that the lives of ordinary people matter — that history ought to focus on those who too often receive only token attention (workers, women, people of color), and also on how people's actions, individually and collectively, shaped our society.What is Howard Zinn's point of view on the American Revolution? ›
A few years before his death in 2010, Howard Zinn said that “our highest ideals are expressed in the Declaration of Independence,” and that our history “is a striving . . . to make those ideals a reality.” But he regarded the American Revolution as a vast fraud, in which rich Americans used the rhetoric of equality and ...What is Zinn's message in chapter 22? ›
Zinn argues that, had the American people known the truth about the Gulf War, they wouldn't have been so eager to support it; furthermore, he suggests that government propaganda tricked Americans into supporting the Gulf War.What aspects of US history does Zinn focus on why? ›
Zinn eventually received his Ph. D. from Columbia and began working at Spelman College, historically a black women's college. There, he became deeply involved in Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam movements, advising the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and organizing protests.What was Zinn's argument in chapter 4? ›
Zinn's point, however, is that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” can be forms of control. Put another way, he's arguing that the Founding Fathers pacified their people by giving them just enough freedom and power not to rebel, while still preserving an unjust status quo.What is the main idea of a people's history of the United States? ›
A People's History of the United States (2015, first edition 1980) walks you through the United States' past from the perspective of the marginalized, the disenfranchised and the oppressed. These blinks describe a history of uprisings, protests and activism in the face of a government built for the rich.What is Zinn's thesis in chapter 11? ›
Zinn argues that the Homestead Act was a typical act of Establishment reform, designed to placate the masses without doing anything to change their lives in a profound way.What is Zinn's thesis in chapter 5? ›
Zinn argues that Madison's statement that the government should be a “referee” for factions suggests Madison's belief that powerful people need to sew discord and disunity in their subjects, in order to ensure that these subjects are too weak to rise up and rebel.
What is the thesis of chapter 7 Zinn? ›
In this chapter, Zinn will discuss the U.S.'s long history of deception and cruelty to Native Americans. One of his most important points is that the expansion and “glorification” of the United States wouldn't have been possible without the marginalization and terrorization of the Native American population.What does Howard Zinn mean on this statement small acts when multiplied by millions of people can transform the world? ›
Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” howard zinn. In other words, the journey to a more sustainable future requires all of us to keep taking those small actions that eventually lead to something transformative. Those actions begin in our hearts and in our minds.Why is Zinn writing this what is his purpose? ›
Howard Zinn's main purpose for writing A People's History of the United States is to give history in an un-biased manner. For example, he says that he will not glorify any movement and denounce any 'bad guy' in history; he will give information as it should be given.What is Zinn's thesis for chapter 6? ›
Zinn believes that the Revolutionary War was fought for the benefit of the white male upper class. Through this he extends that the abuse of power by the landowning white males oppressed and lowered women's value in society.What happened in chapter 22 Freak the Mighty? ›
By chapter 22 of Rodman Philbrick's Freak the Mighty, things are getting back to normal after the Killer Kane fiasco. Max's father, who was nicknamed Killer Kane after murdering Max's mother, had been released from prison on parole; he violated a restraining order to kidnap Max.What is the most important turning point in American history? ›
The Civil War is the decisive turning point in American history. A nation divided against itself before—half enslaved, half free—was reunited. Experience the Civil War through the eyes of soldiers and civilians.Who impacted American history the most? ›
- Abraham Lincoln.
- Rosa Parks.
- George Washington.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Albert Einstein.
- Benjamin Franklin.
- Thomas Jefferson.
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
In History the key concepts are sources, evidence, continuity and change, cause and effect, significance, perspectives, empathy and contestability. They are integral in developing students' historical understanding.What does Zinn say the American Revolution changed? ›
He describes the American Revolution as a clever device to defeat “potential rebellions and create a consensus of popular support for the rule of a new, privileged leadership.” His Civil War was another elaborate confidence game.What two major symbols are destroyed in chapter 11 of Lord of the Flies? ›
In the chaos that ensues when Ralph's and Jack's camps come into direct conflict, two important symbols in the novel—the conch shell and the Lord of the Flies—are destroyed.
What is the main idea of chapter 11 Lord of the Flies? ›
Chapter 11 has two main events in the plot of Lord of the Flies—the kidnapping and torturing of Samneric, and the death of Piggy and the destruction of the conch shell.What is a peoples history of the United States Howard Zinn about? ›
A People's History of the United States (2015, first edition 1980) walks you through the United States' past from the perspective of the marginalized, the disenfranchised and the oppressed. These blinks describe a history of uprisings, protests and activism in the face of a government built for the rich.What is radical history Howard Zinn summary? ›
A radical history, then, would expose the limitations of governmental reform, the connections of government to wealth and privilege, the tendencies of governments toward war and xenophobia, the play of money and power behind the presumed neutrality of law.What is the thesis of Chapter 7 Zinn? ›
In this chapter, Zinn will discuss the U.S.'s long history of deception and cruelty to Native Americans. One of his most important points is that the expansion and “glorification” of the United States wouldn't have been possible without the marginalization and terrorization of the Native American population.What were the two main objectives of the radicals? ›
Unlike moderates, Radicals Aim was to achieve Swaraj and to end the tyrannical rule of the British. To achieve their goals, radicals were following the four methods:- principles of Swaraj, Boycott of foreign goods, and National education to make the Indians aware.