• A People's History of the United States

  • By: Howard Zinn
  • Narrated by: Jeff Zinn
  • Length: 34 hrs and 8 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (8,425 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
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    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.

822 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

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.

305 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    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.

145 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

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.

126 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • 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.

110 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    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.

93 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

90 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

This is a great listen

Winston Churchill said that "History is written by the victors". This book is told from the losers side. Very well written and read. If you are interested in the truth about history, you should give this book a listen.

80 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

78 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A great alternative bias history.

This book is bias but openly so. Zinn tells you at the beginning that he is going to tell you a bias history. He tells the story from the point of view of the poor, repressed and downtrodden.

I really enjoyed the stories and characters that I was able to learn about. Very touching stories. Sometimes sad but often stories of great people that tried to change the world for the better.

72 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    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

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-20-20

Must read

A really great book. Fascinating peformance.
Sometimes the audio had minor editing problems. Must read.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for bilal
  • bilal
  • 08-12-20

best book i ever read

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Ray Glasheen
  • 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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    3 out of 5 stars
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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.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • P 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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