Decide which interpretation of American History since 1877 is more accurate, that articulated by Howard Zinn or that of Paul Johnson.

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Howard Zinn's portrayal is highly polemic and focuses on individual events to shape a narrative that largely revolves around ideas of oppression, particularly post-Civil War. In a 'people's history' such as Zinn's, specific individuals are chosen around which the author's main argument is built. Zinn's critics charge him with picking...

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Howard Zinn's portrayal is highly polemic and focuses on individual events to shape a narrative that largely revolves around ideas of oppression, particularly post-Civil War. In a 'people's history' such as Zinn's, specific individuals are chosen around which the author's main argument is built. Zinn's critics charge him with picking and choosing people and events to shape his narrative and not taking into account the breadth and width of historical events. What we are left with is a very postmodern history: a subjective rather than objective narration. This was probably due to the fact that Zinn was heavily influenced by Marxism for most of his life, and the latter's emphasis on class conflict can be seen throughout his work.

Johnson's work, on the other hand, is more of a classic history that attempts to touch on the major events and explain how those events shaped the whole. Unlike Zinn, Johnson tried to shape a panorama of history, like a current of events running over time. This does not mean that Johnson's work is all rosy, particular following the end of the Civil War and the rise of Jim Crow laws in the South. However he does stay true or at least more so than Zinn when describing the totality of history. And that's what any good history book does—present the totality. This style can gloss over certain things that A People's History of the United States may capture in more detail. In my opinion, Zinn's work arguably presents a distorted view based on the events of a few, whereas a broad-based narrative presents a more accurate depiction of how events shaped a country and people more generally.

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