Zinn Essay

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People’s History-Prompt 1
The making of America is told in textbooks and storybooks all over the country; however, they always tend to leave out some of the more disturbing parts of history. In A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn tells history from the perspective of all the minorities affected in the building of the United States. He criticizes the versions of history that are told from the “viewpoint of the leaders…” without any regard of the mass murders or exploitation (9). Zinn describes the novel as being “skeptical of governments and their attempts…” (10). The view of Zinn’s novel as a “history from below” is an unquestionably accurate description of the book. He shows all the facts of history, instead of just what the leaders at the time would want people to know. Christopher Columbus was the first European explorer to land in the Americas, and therefore he is viewed, in a sense, as a hero. “When we read the history books given to children in the United States, it all starts with heroic adventure-there is no bloodshed-and Columbus Day is a celebration” (7). What the textbooks fail to mention, but Zinn focuses on, is the treatment of the Arawaks who did nothing but greet the newcomers with gifts, and welcome them into their villages. Little did they know that they would soon be murdered by the thousands, and sold into slavery. This peaceful and quiet tribe was destroyed in the blink of an eye compared to the rest of history. The Europeans were struggling to build their own empires, but on the way, they destroyed an entire culture. Zinn says, “If history is to be creative, to anticipate a possible future without denying the past, it should, I believe, emphasize new possibilities by disclosing those hidden episodes of the past…” (11). This is exactly what Zinn does as the novel progresses. He shows how the minorities in the situation felt, which is usually hidden by other information. Zinn chooses to show the dark side of history, the...
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