Howard Zinn takes a very unique approach to the study of American history. It is unique in that he examines history from the perspective of the oppressed. Zinn feels that popular accounts of American history are written from the perspective of the privileged classes, those classes being upper class, white males.
Zinn’s take on history is viewed through the oppressed classes. He writes history using the view of the “underside,” the masses of under classed citizens that Zinn views as having been oppressed by the privileged. These groups include African-Americans, women, Native Americans, Hispanics and the laborers. Zinn wanted to write a history book that detailed their experiences and how the oppressive class made it difficult for these groups to move forward. In doing so, Zinn was able to tell the story of the underside from every age in American history; a retelling of the popular tales spun by the privileged.