A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn

A People's History of the United States book cover
Start Your Free Trial

A People's History Of The United States Chapter 1 Summary

What is Zinn's main argument in chapter 1 of A People's History of the United States?

Expert Answers info

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write9,186 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Zinn opens with an account, from the Arawak Indian point of view, of the horrific slaughter and suffering that came to them and Indians on other nearby islands when Columbus and his followers arrived. Zinn states that the genocide inflicted on the Indians is not ignored, but quickly brushed over by traditional historians such as Samuel Eliot Morison, encouraging us as readers to slide over it as well. What is traditionally emphasized in histories, at least up until 1980, when Zinn published this book, is the Western achievement in gaining the New World. Atrocity is brushed aside and justified as the price of progress. This, Zinn says, is simply one version of history, one that chooses to side with the ruling classes in society. As Zinn puts it,

The historian's distortion is more than technical, it is ideological; it is released into a world of contending interests, where any chosen emphasis supports (whether the historian means to or not) some kind of interest, whether economic or...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 718 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Domenick Franecki eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write4,274 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write16,848 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial