A People's History of the United States Themes

A People's History of the United States Themes

Political corruption in the American government

Sometimes, politicians have economic stakes that they protect through policy reform and public misinformation. Sometimes, politicians make friends with rich people who pay them lots of money to protect their own investments and industries. Zinn says that not only is that true about American politics, he argues that a better understanding of American history is that it has been happening the whole time, and it actually drives much of what we consider to be philosophical movements, like the Revolution itself, says Zinn.

The value of alternative points of view

Zinn includes minority "People's" histories in his A People's History. That's because he passionately believes that the diversity of opinion is the key to a balanced perception of state. He feels that by only looking at history from one point of view, we run the serious risk of misunderstanding what history is trying to tell us. Zinn feels that if we are to properly understand our present political environment (which is essentially the real point of his book), we must remember the forgotten narratives of the disenfranchised, of women, of slaves, of Native peoples, and of all those political resistance movements that tried and failed to make a different America.

The need for skepticism

Zinn is a cynic, one might say. That doesn't mean his ideas are necessarily far-fetched—although he received much criticism for this book, he does succeed in helping his reader see American history in a new lens. The lens is skepticism: By encouraging his readers to be less trusting of what they read in school or hear on the news, Zinn hopes to incite the public to represent their interests more boldly, and to be more resistant to the effects of propaganda and misinformation.

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