A People's History of the United States

Narrated by: Jeff Zinn
Length: 34 hrs and 8 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.5 out of 5 stars (6,616 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"A wonderful, splendid book - a book that should be ready by every American, student or otherwise, who wants to understand his country, its true history, and its hope for the future." (Howard Fast)

For much of his life, historian Howard Zinn chronicled 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, 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 - America's women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, the working poor, and immigrant laborers. As Zinn shows, many of our country's greatest battles - the fights for a fair wage, an eight-hour workday, child-labor laws, health and safety standards, universal suffrage, women's rights, racial equality - were carried out at the grassroots level, against bloody resistance.

Covering Christopher Columbus' arrival through President Clinton's first term, A People's History of the United States features insightful analysis of the most important events in our history.

©2009 Howard Zinn (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

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

What listeners say about A People's History of the United States

Average Customer Ratings
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Socialist Propaganda

If you hate the U.S. and believe it has done nothing good or redeeming in its history, then this is the book for you.

Mr. Zinn had no intention of writing about history when he wrote this book. He gives a bunch of stats and examples to prove his argument, but completely ignores facts and stats that would undermine his position.

If you are looking for a history of the United States, look elsewhere. If you want to read the bitter ramblings of a self described socialist as he attempts to persuade you that the United States is evil and will be the downfall of all humankind, you have found the right book.

91 people found this helpful

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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.

46 people found this helpful

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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.

30 people found this helpful

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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.

26 people found this helpful

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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.

25 people found this helpful

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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

24 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars

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.

754 people found this helpful

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    4 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?

523 people found this helpful

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Fighting indoctrination with indoctrination

I ended up having to do the last 3 chapters at 3x speed in order to get through it. It is very clear Howard Zinn hates the Untied States and capitalism. If there is a negative take on US history, Mr. Zinn will express it. He gives it away at the end, "I wanted to fashion a new kind of history."

13 people found this helpful

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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.

48 people found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • bilal
  • 08-12-20

best book i ever read

i highly recommend this book for students of history.
an honest history of united states.

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  • Ray Glasheen
  • 08-10-20

A brilliant book

This book is a must read/listen for anyone who wishes to look beyond the white veil of American history. A retelling of the country’s history taken from the viewpoint of those unlucky to be on the side of wealth and power. It is an incredibly important book that has at many times horrified and inspired me. Brilliantly researched and written, while also accessible to both occasional readers and academics.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-13-20

Great book. Awful performance/production.

Audio levels change throughout. Reader sounds like it's the first time they read the material.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael Rowan
  • 10-03-19

Tough going

Well written and narrated. Tough going though and quiet depressing throughout. Should be called tales of misery of the United States

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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.