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A People's History of the United States: Highlights from the Twentieth Century | [Howard Zinn]

A People's History of the United States: Highlights from the Twentieth Century

Since its original landmark publication in 1980, A People's History of the United States has been chronicling American history from the bottom up, throwing out the official version of history taught in schools (with its emphasis on great men in high places) to focus on the street, the home, and the workplace.

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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: Howard Zinn's history is not what we are accustomed to, but it deserves a place on every iPod. Zinn chronicles the struggles of the oppressed, the minorities, the activists. He offers them up as both a history and a call to strive for equality. Matt Damon (who dropped a reference to Zinn's book into Good Will Hunting) perfectly captures Zinn's tone, and maintains a fine continuity despite the many quotes and occasional footnotes. �Chris Doheny

Publisher's Summary

Since its original landmark publication in 1980, A People's History of the United States has been chronicling American history from the bottom up, throwing out the official version of history taught in schools (with its emphasis on great men in high places) to focus on the street, the home, and the workplace.

Known for its lively, clear prose as well as its scholarly research, Zinn's A People's History is the only volume to tell America's story from the point of view of, and in the words of, its women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, working poor, and immigrant laborers. Here we learn that many of our country's greatest battles (labor laws, women's rights, racial equality) were carried out at the grassroots level, against bloody resistance.

Revised and updated with new chapters on Clinton's presidency, the 2000 Election, and the "War on Terrorism," A People's History of the United States features insightful analysis of the most important events in our history.

Also, listen to The People Speak,a celebration of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.

©1980, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2003 Howard Zinn; (P)1999, 2003 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Matt Damon's reading captures the spirit of the text. Like the book, Damon's voice has an edge to it. He expresses the author's outrage regarding the exploitation of certain groups in American history. He also communicates Zinn's admiration for the courage and determination demonstrated by protest leaders." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (627 )
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  •  
    Michael Oceanside, CA, USA 01-22-08
    Michael Oceanside, CA, USA 01-22-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "the second half is better"

    As much as I like Matt Damon, I really didn't like him reading this book. It sounds like he's falling asleep reading a long list of atrocities. The book gets much better when the author takes over about half way through. The message is pretty dark, that this country is on evil auto-pilot, and that it takes huge movements of people to change its course. My feeling is that we'll only change when someone takes away our TV's and french fries.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather San Francisco, CA, USA 03-03-06
    Heather San Francisco, CA, USA 03-03-06
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    "Missing Something"

    Having read the full text version of Zinn's book in my high school government class 10 years ago, I was really looking forward to revisiting it. Narrator Matt Damon does an outstanding job with the book, and gives it a lot of feeling and flavor. But, I found that this abridged version was simply too abridged. The title for this watered-down version should be "An Overview of A Few Important Trends in Recent US History" not "A People's History of the United States", which promises something broad and ambitious in scope which is simply not delivered.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jordan Lanham, MD, United States 05-19-08
    Jordan Lanham, MD, United States 05-19-08 Member Since 2007
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    "Eye Opening"

    This book is a wonderful listen and an eye opening challenge to everything you thought you knew. The book is written/read in nice short sections so you are able to follow the author through time as the story of history unfolds. You will get the giggles as things start to enter your lifetime (like Bill Clinton's Presidency). A true gem.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mkral 04-18-05
    mkral 04-18-05 Member Since 2004
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    "Not quite the original"

    While the content of the book is good, this "abridgement" is really just the last part of the book. While the book version of A People's history..." starts with Columbus (I believe) this audio version covers only the 20th century. I was pretty disappointed, as the audio version is great, but very incomplete. I agree with the other reviewers, Matt Damon is the perfect person to read this book. I think you'd be much better off purchasing the paper copy of this book to get the complete stroy.

    20 of 28 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Samantha Elkridge, MD, USA 12-14-05
    Samantha Elkridge, MD, USA 12-14-05
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    "Smarmy is as Matt Daemon Does"

    Go with the Abridged version, read by Zinn himself. No one does Zinn like Zinn.

    Matt Daemon's voice drones over every single sentence in the book. What is otherwise one of the most ennervating and intelligent books in American history is a boring, lecture-style snooze.

    Any story is mind numbing if the reader never changes his inflection. Yes, Mr. Daemon, there is a difference in inflection between the period and the comma.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Putney 10-12-05
    J. Putney 10-12-05 Listener Since 2003
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    "to the previous review"

    It's not quite the original because it's the updated Twentieth Century version that was also released as a book. I must add it is quite wonderful and I'm glad Matt Damon could read for it. It's a must have for those interested in history from a new point of view other than war, namely the peoples.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karl Sunnyvale , CA, USA 02-01-05
    Karl Sunnyvale , CA, USA 02-01-05 Member Since 2004
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    "A must have"

    Howard's book is an intelligent and carefully crafted piece of American history. Truly a homage to the people which make this a great country.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nelson Mostow Cleveland ohio 01-25-09
    Nelson Mostow Cleveland ohio 01-25-09 Member Since 2007
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    "Thought provoking perspective"

    I found this book disturbingly powerful, soul searching and convincing. The thesis is that government portrays the idea of a unified country with a common identity and and National Interest& in order to perpetuate a system where the rich stay rich and benefit greatly and the lower classes of people are kept subservient. The wars since WWII have been to perpetuate the interest of large corporations whose policies place greed above human life, working conditions rights and freedoms. Wars are fought by poorer classes of Americans and the myth of National Interest& is used to motivate them. Wars also serve to distract those being taken advantage of at home from realizing this fact. There are grave injustices against blacks, women, Latinos, gays etc in this country as well as the people in the countries that we attack. The money that could have been used to improve the plight of the underprivileged is instead being used to make arms for the military to fight these wars. The ultimate suffering is by children. Children killed and mutilated by wars, children born in poverty in this country and children of immigrants who are denied services in this country by the lack of social programs. This book makes you want to fight for social justice. I highly recommend this book.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Krohn Traverse City, MI, USA 02-16-07
    Krohn Traverse City, MI, USA 02-16-07
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    "Extremely disappointed"

    I wish I had read these reviews before I bought this book, but friends had highly recommended this book so I bought it. I did read the Audible information through and thought it was quite misleading in the way the description did not make clear that the audiobook was a much abridged 20th Century ONLY edition. What Zinn does cover is very interesting, but a lot of listeners have probably lived through the a large part of the 20th century covered, at least I have.

    9 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ingrid Van Nuys, CA, USA 12-31-05
    Ingrid Van Nuys, CA, USA 12-31-05
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    "Interesting but Disappointing"

    As others have noted, this "abridged" version is incomplete. Howard Zinn is a fascinating mind and this audio version of his book doesn't do his research and perspective justice. I will have to get the actual book and actually *gasp* READ it. What *IS* in the audiobook, however, is intriguing and sometimes mind-boggling.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
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