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Howard Zinn's American History

What Zinn calls for is a true people's history, recognizing that nations are artificial constructs which divide people when in fact all people are really alike and united in their humanness. This people's history would have a wider focus than traditional history and would cross borders and other divisions such as ethnic, racial, and sexual as well as national. Zinn is not simply viewing history in a broader context, however, for he sees instead that the true community of man stands outside the political divisions of the time while still being influenced by them. Zinn distrusts government and sees it as the executioner, with the people being the victims. This extends not only to the direct victims, those who are thrown off their land and subjugated by the advance of some new nationalist idea or movement, but also the people involved in the oppression as executioners themselves: "In the short run. . . the victims, themselves desperate and tainted with the culture that oppresses them, turn on other victims" (p. 10). Zinn sees the community of man as made up of victims and oppressors, usually the same people at different times.

Zinn cites Camus to the effect that history is a matter of conflict and that society is made up of conflicts between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and workers, and racial and sexual dominators and dominated. History becomes a matter of taking sides


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Howard Zinn's American History. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 19:48, October 24, 2014, from
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