Book Review: "A People's History of the United States" Edited by Howard Zinn & Anthony Arnove
Voices of a People's History of the United States
Edited by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove
Published by Seven Stories Press, 2004
Book review by Lucine Kasbarian
Appearing in Indymedia San Francisco and elsewhere.
"Voices of a People's History of the United States" is a revelatory look at American history as seen through the voices of dissenters and the disenfranchised, presented through powerful speeches, letters, poetry and song...that, at best, helped changed the course of history, and at worst, went unheard because the messages ran counter to powerful interests.
"Voices" presents the thoughts and words of conscientious objectors from Thomas Paine, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, and Langston Hughes to Malcolm X, Woodie Guthrie, Patti Smith, and Michael Moore. The book also presents the views of unheard-of non-conformists, such as escaped slaves, exploited factory workers, subjugated women, and peace activists. "Voices" has entries for nearly every period in American history and yet are topics not accounted for in the history books, beginning with Columbus' colonization of the Americas all the way to Dubya's War on Terror.
At a time when superpower nations are waging war around the world, Voices inspires the reader just as much as it roils...for the book is not only a testimony to those who have been suppressed through the ages, nor simply a showpiece demonstrating the devastating effects of hegemony, but a wake-up call and call-to-action, reminding readers that people are not as defenseless as powerful elites may have them believe. The voices presented in "Voices of a People's History of the United States" show us that, no matter what the year or the conundrum, it is indeed possible for people to defend, secure and maintain their human rights and civil liberties.
Lucine Kasbarian is an Armenian-American writer and the author of Armenia: A Rugged Land, an Enduring People (Dillon Press/ Simon & Schuster).