Academic journal article Historical Journal of Massachusetts

Voices of a People's History of the United States

Academic journal article Historical Journal of Massachusetts

Voices of a People's History of the United States

Article excerpt

Howard Zinn and Anthony Amove, ed., Voices of a People's History of the United States, Seven Stories Press, New York, 2005.

Howard Zinn and Anthony Amove have edited a first-class reader to go along with Zinn's earlier narrative, A People's History of the United States, which was first published in 1980. This reader is an excellent collection of primary source documents drawn from diaries, songs, poems, speeches, letters to the editor, testimony before Congress, official investigations of disasters, etc., that for the most part have not gotten into the official versions of what has happened in America's past.

Zinn, the principal author, does not hide his perspective. In fact, he openly announces it in a stirring introduction:

When I began work, five years ago, on what would become the present volume, Voices of a People's History of the United States, I wanted the voices of struggle, mostly absent from our history books, to be given the place they deserve. I wanted labor history, which has been the battleground, decade after decade, century after century, of an ongoing fight for human dignity, to come to the fore. Arid I wanted my readers to experience how at key moments in our history some of the bravest and most effective political acts were the sounds of the human voice itself.

To omit or to minimize these voices of resistance is to create the idea that power only rests with those who have the guns, who possess the wealth, who own the newspapers and the television stations. I want to point out that people who seem to have no power, whether working people, people of color, or women - once they organize and protest and create movements - have a voice no government can suppress. …

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