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A People's History of the United States

Highlights from the Twentieth Century
Narrated by: Matt Damon, Howard Zinn
Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
Categories: History, American
4 out of 5 stars (1,112 ratings)

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Editorial 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 in 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

For much of his life, historian Howard Zinn has been chronicling American history from the bottom up, throwing out the official version 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 of the United States 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 steel-willed resistance. This edition of A People's History of the United States features insightful analysis of some of the most important events in this country in the past 100 years.

Featuring a preface and afterword read by the author himself, this audio continues Howard Zinn's important contribution to a complete and balanced understanding of American 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)199, 2003 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"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

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Heather
  • San Francisco, CA, USA
  • 03-03-06

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.

55 of 60 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • Oceanside, CA, USA
  • 01-22-08

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.

36 of 41 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

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.

32 of 43 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

13 of 18 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Focused on the 20th century

I hadn't realized I had obtained a version of this book that's centered on recent history. Nonetheless, it illuminates the context leading up to today's controversies quite well and from a dozen perspectives.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

this should be required reading

I have never taken the time to review another book but after completing this read, I truly felt inspired and also sad. it will be each of our individual responsibilities to share these unknown facts from our American history with our children. one parent at a time, one teacher at a time. I am very grateful for this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Started ok, but turned really communist quickly

I think that the idea of telling history from a certain point of view is great. Shedding light on the lesser known facts thats caused so much harm is good, but the books uses some of those facts to push a socialist and communist agenda. Ignoring just as cruel and evil events from those sides as well. The book also takes stats from small sections of the population and attempts to apply them to the entire country (of course picking and choosing the stats that fit the books agenda). The book would be a lot better if it stuck to facts and was more honest about the rights and wrongs on both sides.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Interesting historical footnotes obscured by Marxist doctrine.

I genuinely appreciated his non-conformist take on 20th century American history. The specific historical references he highlights add in important and often overlooked perspective. That said his Marxist economic and identitarian prescriptions are absolute nonsense. His incoherent economic ramblings and odes to identity politics are nauseating and ruin what would otherwise be a reasonably interesting read. I got a chuckle when he referenced the collapse of the Soviet Union and then references they were not truly socialist. A shining example of the no true Scotsman fallacy. Truly an interesting look into the ideology of the current intersectional politics\social justice warrior Marxist left.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Karl
  • Sunnyvale , CA, USA
  • 02-01-05

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.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful