What I’m Reading Now

Another in an occasional series. This book is going to require a follow-up entry, but I have to praise Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. It really is what the title says, history told from the point of view of the people, not the ruling classes, though Zinn does make extensive use of the writings of Thomas J. et al.

I’ve just finished the chapter “Slavery Without Submission, Emancipation Without Freedom,” a complete refutation of the party line that Abe freed the slaves and that blacks elected at the end of the war were incompetent buffoons. Throughout this work, Zinn makes the best use of primary sources, giving voice to those who have otherwise been lost to history.

The chapter that inspired me the most, however, was “The Intimately Oppressed,” the chapter on women that makes it clear inequality was not always the standard in this country. When everyone farmed to survive, labor was distributed evenly. When the bulk of the population migrated from farm to factory and then to office, women were relegated to second-class status. Their cries for equality come through and resonate as women in other countries struggle to be heard.

BTW. my admiration of the book makes me grateful that that History Is a Weapon has posted the text online. Here’s the justification, which I’m sure the folks at “weapon” won’t mind my repeating:

This great book should really be read by everyone. It is difficult to describe why it so great because it both teaches and inspires. You really just have to read it. We think it is so good that it demands to be as accessible as possible. Once you’ve finished it, we’re sure you’ll agree. In fact, years ago, we would offer people twenty dollars if they read the book and didn’t think it was completely worth their time. Of all the people who took us up on it, no one collected.

The writer in me, though, is going crazy because Howard Zinn’s estate is not benefiting from this rip-off. I hope “weapon” is sending royalties, but I doubt it. This means, they think Professor Zinn should work for free.

Stay tuned for further comment …


2 Responses to “What I’m Reading Now”

  1. Peter Urban Says:

    I had the privilege of taking two of Prof. Zinn’s political science courses while a student at Boston University. Excellent. Have several of his books.

    • lizr128 Says:

      Thanks, Peter. I’ve put him aside for the moment to read Michele Norris’s “The Grace of Silence” because I have to loan it to a friend. Completely different but equally compelling.

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