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A People's History of the United States

1492 to Present
Narrated by: Jeff Zinn
Length: 34 hrs and 8 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (4,577 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

Critic Reviews

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

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?

352 of 372 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Thomas
  • Oakland Park, FL, United States
  • 11-09-10

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.

472 of 501 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Tallman
  • San Francisco, CA, United States
  • 06-30-11

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.

180 of 199 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

110 of 131 people found this review helpful

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

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.

59 of 70 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • JB
  • 09-08-11

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.

87 of 105 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mary
  • Madeira Park, BC, Canada
  • 05-20-13

Even History Haters Will Love This

Every country should be so lucky as to have a history like this that punctures all the carefully concocted national myths and gives the contrary view--in Zinn's account George Washington was a wealthy landowner who fomented revolution for personal gain; Abe Lincoln believed blacks were not equal to whites and only abolished slavery out of political expediency; FDR was a staunch defender of upper-class privilege who only introduced the New Deal to defuse revolt; etc. But Zinn is not just a gadfly--his version makes sense more often than not, and furthermore, his great sense of story gives hackneyed old history new life and makes for highly enjoyable entertainment. And don't pay any attention to the quibbles about production quality--the actual reading is fine and the few technical glitches there are barely deserve mention.

25 of 30 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Distrubingly Fascinating History of the US

What made the experience of listening to A People's History of the United States the most enjoyable?

The book is clearly narrated and the audio quality is perfect on my device unlike the listening experience some other people claim to have had.

What other book might you compare A People's History of the United States to and why?

I have never heard in such detail the "other side" of the history of the US which has been conveniently not taught in our public school system. And I wonder if the children of the elite private schools are taught about the history of the US that they have benefited from.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I was moved all throughout the book, so much so that at times I had to cut it off.

Any additional comments?

For anyone who wants a well rounded education this is a must read (I mean listen).

19 of 23 people found this review helpful

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

Zinn's history definitley has a point of view.

What made the experience of listening to A People's History of the United States the most enjoyable?

I enjoyed hearing history expressed from another point of view. Of course, one must keep Zinn's bias in mind while listening. I think the truth (if we can ever find truth in history) lies somewhere between the history taught in grade school, and Zinn's left leaning version.

Would you be willing to try another book from Howard Zinn? Why or why not?

Yes

What aspect of Jeff Zinn’s performance would you have changed?

He did a fine job of reading, perhaps the post production could be cleaned up a bit.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me think, and want to read more about history.

Any additional comments?

At the end of the day, these stories need to be told. The genocide of the native peoples of the Americas must never be forgotten.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Priyaranjan Padhi
  • 11-22-18

Essential reading for everyone

This book should be on everyone’s reading list , people both inside and outside the US. The reason for this statement will become evident in the course of reading this masterpiece. To the critics, to err on the side of humanity is no error at all.

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  • Sören
  • 08-26-18

Very interesting

I would recommend this history book, this is the version of you hardly ever hear about. The history of struggle of people at the bottom of society.