Educate me on Howard Zinn

Discussion in 'Books' started by TheAtomicBull, Nov 13, 2003.

  1. TheAtomicBull

    TheAtomicBull New Member

    Dec 18, 2002
    Rochester, MN
    I'll assume I'm in the right forum for this, so here goes.

    I just got assigned Chapter 16 of Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" for my Modern American History class. It's entitled "A People's War?".

    I've been flipping through it and I swear I've come across what appear to be the following agruments:

    That the United States waited to go into World War II because it wanted to see England weakened and grab a large slice of the imperial pie.

    That the sole reason the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan were as one gigantic "Fuck you" to Russia.

    The United States didn't declare war on Japan because it was attacked at Pearl Harbor, but instead because it wanted some of America's holdings in the Pacific.

    That the different materials used in the core of each nuke are definitive evidence that they were dropped as some kind of science experiment on the Japanese people

    Now I'll have to say I'm reading this after spending 4 hours typing out a 12-page paper and it is 4:20 AM. Could it be the insomnia screwing with my comprehension or am I actually anywhere close to correct in the context of what he's written before?

    If there's anybody out there who's read Zinn before, I'd really appreciate feedback.
  2. DoctorJones24

    DoctorJones24 Member

    Aug 26, 1999
    I've read Zinn, but not that chapter, from what I remember. But I'd say points 2 and 4 seem like the Zinn I remember, and aren't much different than you get from many radical historians (though you obviously have oversimplified them for effect).

    In general, though, I'd say you're misstating his argument in that you keep referring to specific actions as something done by "nations." As in "The United States didn't..." etc. I'd say his whole book is about trying to refocus American history away from the political elites who metonymically "become America," and towards the people who actually make up the country.
  3. TheAtomicBull

    TheAtomicBull New Member

    Dec 18, 2002
    Rochester, MN

    I was just immediately startled by some of the statements in that chapter, since they completely contradicted some of the statements in my professor's in-class lecture. I think he's just trying to make me think, in that regard, which is never a bad thing. Hell, instead of occasional quizzes, he coveres the topic by assigning my class ten-page papers to write.

    I've got about eight more chapters to read out of that book, so I imagine your statement that the book is about refocusing history on the people who make up the country will probably come through quite a bit more.

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