I say damaging because its cynical and slanderous description of the history of our country has now been forced upon two generations of high school and college students since its release in 1980. The book has little if anything good to say about the United States. It is a narrative in which every action taken by the United States has been motivated by genocide and greed, and every event was always a class struggle in which nothing good ever came from someone who actually had the audacity to make a profit from his endeavors to make the world a better place.
What is most telling about this book is what it does and does not include. First of all, and perhaps most importantly, A People's History doesn't have footnotes. Then there is what gets covered and what doesn't. I will let columnist Dan Flynn of Frontpage Magazine give you an idea of the intellectual vacuousness of Zinn's magnum opus:
Washington’s Farewell Address, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and Reagan’s speech at the Brandenburg Gate all fail to merit a mention. Nowhere do we learn that Americans were first in flight, first to fly across the Atlantic, and first to walk on the moon. Alexander Graham Bell, Jonas Salk, and the Wright Brothers are entirely absent. Instead, the reader is treated to the exploits of Speckled Snake, Joan Baez, and the Berrigan brothers. While Zinn sees fit to mention that immigrants often went into professions like ditch-digging and prostitution, American success stories like those of Alexander Hamilton, John Jacob Astor, and Louis B. Mayer—to name but a few—are excluded. Valley Forge rates a single fleeting reference, while D-Day’s Normandy invasion, Gettysburg, and other important military battles are left out. In their place, we get several pages on the My Lai massacre and colorful descriptions of U.S. bombs falling on hotels, air-raid shelters, and markets during the Gulf War of the early 1990s.Nevertheless, A People's History continues to be practically required reading in any college or high school AP history class.
Zinn's death comes just weeks after the History Channel aired The People Speak, which was based on his book, and was a two-hour snoozefest of leftist actors and entertainers performing spoken word performances of the "little people" who Zinn fetishized as being the real America. Of course, you were only one of those little people if you were in one of the left-wing preferred victim groups.
In an increasingly infamous scene in the movie Good Will Hunting (a movie I absolutely love by the way), there is a scene where uber-genius Will (played by Zinn-bot Matt Damon) tells his shrink Sean Maguire (played by Robin Williams) to "read Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States," because that book would, "knock you on your ass." I will leave you with some constructive advice. I suggest you spend your money on something more worthwhile, namely an antidote to Zinn's silly screed, entitled A Patriot's History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen. Now that book will knock you on your ass, as Schweikart (a history professor at the University of Dayton) and Allen (a history professor at the University of Washington, Tacoma) present a fair view of the United States, complete with its successes and its failures, its proud moments and shameful moments. Oh, and it's heavily footnoted.
I wish Howard Zinn Godspeed, and of course I feel for his family who I'm sure will miss him, but it's too bad Zinn's book didn't die with him.
Good Day to You, Sir