What is his main purpose for writing A Peoples History of the United States? 2. According to Zinn, how is Columbus portrayed in traditional history books? 3. What is Zinn’s basic criticism of historian Samuel Eliot Morison’s book, Christopher Columbus, Mariner?
A People’s History of the United States – Howard Zinn
Chapter 1: “Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress”
1. According to Zinn, what is his main purpose for writing A People’s History of the United States?
2. According to Zinn, how is Columbus portrayed in traditional history books?
3. What is Zinn’s basic criticism of historian Samuel Eliot Morison’s book, Christopher Columbus, Mariner?
4. What major issue(s) does Bartolome de las Casas bring up regarding Spanish expeditions in the Caribbean?
5. Identify one early and one subsequent motive that drove Columbus to oppress indigenous peoples.
6. What was the ultimate fate of the Arawak Indians?
7. What was the significance of Quetzalcoatl?
8. Compare the strategies and motives underlying the conquest of the Aztecs by Cortez and the conquest of the Incas by Pizzaro.
9. What were the major causes of war between the Powhatans and the English settlers?
10. Explain Governor John Winthrop’s legal and biblical justification for seizing Indian land.
11. Explain the main tactic of warfare used by the English against the Indians.
12. According to Roger Williams, how did the English usually justify their attacks on the Indians?
13. What ultimately happened to the estimated 10 million Indians living in North America at the time of Columbus’ arrival?
14. Evaluate the statement: “If there are sacrifices to be made for human progress, is it not essential to hold to the principle that those to be sacrificed must make the decision themselves?”
A People’s History of the United States is a 1980 nonfiction book by American historian and political scientist Howard Zinn. In the book, Zinn presented what he considered to be a different side of history from the more traditional “fundamental nationalist glorification of country”. Zinn portrays a side of American history that can largely be seen as the exploitation and manipulation of the majority by rigged systems that hugely favor a small aggregate of elite rulers from across the orthodox political parties.
A People’s History has been assigned as reading in many high schools and colleges across the United States. It has also resulted in a change in the focus of historical work, which now includes stories that previously were ignored. The book was a runner-up in 1980 for the National Book Award. It frequently has been revised, with the most recent edition covering events through 2005. In 2003, Zinn was awarded the Prix des Amis du Monde Diplomatique for the French version of this book Une histoire populaire des États-Unis. More than two million copies have been sold.
In a 1998 interview, Zinn said he had set “quiet revolution” as his goal for writing A People’s History. “Not a revolution in the classical sense of a seizure of power, but rather from people beginning to take power from within the institutions. In the workplace, the workers would take power to control the conditions of their lives.” In 2004, Zinn edited a primary source companion volume with Anthony Arnove, entitled Voices of a People’s History of the United States.
A People’s History of the United States has been criticized by various pundits and fellow historians. Critics, including professor Chris Beneke and Randall J. Stephens, assert blatant omissions of important historical episodes, uncritical reliance on biased sources, and failure to examine opposing views. Conversely, others have defended Zinn and the accuracy and intellectual integrity of his work.