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A People's History of American Empire

A People's History of American Empire

3.2 7
by Howard Zinn, Mike Konopacki, Paul Buhle

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Adapted from the bestselling grassroots history of the United States, the story of America in the world, told in comics form

Since its landmark publication in 1980, A People's History of the United States has had six new editions, sold more than 1.7 million copies, become required classroom reading throughout the country, and been turned into an


Adapted from the bestselling grassroots history of the United States, the story of America in the world, told in comics form

Since its landmark publication in 1980, A People's History of the United States has had six new editions, sold more than 1.7 million copies, become required classroom reading throughout the country, and been turned into an acclaimed play. More than a successful book, A People's History triggered a revolution in the way history is told, displacing the official versions with their emphasis on great men in high places to chronicle events as they were lived, from the bottom up.

Now Howard Zinn, historian Paul Buhle, and cartoonist Mike Konopacki have collaborated to retell, in vibrant comics form, a most immediate and relevant chapter of A People's History: the centuries-long story of America's actions in the world. Narrated by Zinn, this version opens with the events of 9/11 and then jumps back to explore the cycles of U.S. expansionism from Wounded Knee to Iraq, stopping along the way at World War I, Central America, Vietnam, and the Iranian revolution. The book also follows the story of Zinn, the son of poor Jewish immigrants, from his childhood in the Brooklyn slums to his role as one of America's leading historians.

Shifting from world-shattering events to one family's small revolutions, A People's History of American Empire presents the classic ground-level history of America in a dazzling new form.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“At the heart of this wide-ranging comics indictment of American Empire are the terrific human stories of those who have resisted--including wonderful autobiographical episodes from author Howard Zinn's own courageous and inspiring life.” —Joe Sacco, author of Safe Area Gorazde

“Ingenious in its conception and brilliant in execution, this comics version of Howard Zinn's classic history breathes new life into the stories of people who never thought their stories would be told. It is urgently necessary for our times: read this book and see how to raise your voice against all the forces that would drown you out. A modern activist's primer!” —Ben Affleck

First published in 1980, A People's History of the United States earned author Howard Zinn a National Book Award nomination, bestselling status, and plaudits for starting a "quiet revolution" in historical writing. Since then, the People's History has been published in several editions under different titles, but never before has it appeared as a graphic work. Mike Konopacki's cartoons tell the story of U.S. expansionism from Wounded Knee to Iraq. A ground-level history in a striking new form.
School Library Journal

Gr 10 Up -A study of empire-building by established politicians and big businesses from the 1890 Massacre at Wounded Knee through the current Iraq war. As nonfiction sequential art narrative, this stellar volume is compelling both as historical interpretation and you-are-there observation during many eras and in many climes. Konopacki melds realistic and energetic cartoons-Zinn lecturing in the present day, American and Vietnamese soldiers in the jungle, the Shah of Irana's White Revolution-with archival photos and document scraps to create a highly textured visual presentation. Each episode has its own period-specific narrator: Woody Guthrie sings about the Ludlow Massacre, a zoot suiter recounts the convergence of racial politics with popular music, and Zinn remembers his class-conscious boyhood through World War II soldiering and activism undertaken as a Civil Rights-era college professor. Politically charged, this book cana't stand alone as a history text, but it is an essential component for contemporary American government education, as well as an easy work to suggest to both narrative nonfiction and sophisticated comics readers.-Francisca Goldsmith, Halifax Public Libraries, Nova Scotia

Kirkus Reviews
The unknown history and devastating impact of American imperial activities abroad. In this impressively ambitious, if scattered, new offering from Metropolitan's wide-ranging American Empire Project, left-wing historians Zinn (The Unraveling of the Bush Presidency, 2007, etc.) and Buhle (History/Brown Univ.; Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History, 2008, etc.) collaborate with graphic artist Konopacki on a graphic adaptation of key sections from Zinn's bestselling A People's History of the United States (1980). The book is imagined as a lecture on the ugly side of history, delivered by the lean, aging Zinn to a darkened auditorium, with each episode illustrated by Konopacki's almost childishly simple illustrations, sometimes crudely buttressed with grainy photographs. Occasionally, perky sidebars titled "ZINNformation" pop up to point readers to a modern analogy or an interesting bit of trivia. It's an effective technique for delivering this laundry list of despicable behavior, though at times the illustrations seem less than capable of truly rendering their subjects. After a prologue that describes the government's vengeful, knee-jerk reactions to 9/11 as "part of a continuing pattern of American behavior," the main narrative begins abruptly with the Wounded Knee massacre of 1890 and moves on to one head-shaking moment of infamy to another. Being that Zinn is most valuable for his insistence on shedding light on dark corners of American history, the book comes most alive when it is describing little-remembered episodes like the shameful American occupation of the Philippines in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, cleverly enlisting Mark Twain's embittered, virtuallyunknown writings on the subject. The authors' thesis-that America's imperial war machine manufactures conflicts abroad to further its economic interests while stoking consumer demand and tamping down dissent at home-is not developed as fully as it should be, and current wars are strangely missing. An overly episodic but nonetheless powerful teaching tool for the next generation of anti-imperialist activists.

Product Details

Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
American Empire Project Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.45(w) x 11.03(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years


Meet the Author

Howard Zinn, author of numerous acclaimed histories, taught history at Spelman College and Boston University, and received the Lannan Literary Award, among many others. A People's History of the United States was a finalist for the 1981 National Book Award. Born in 1922, Zinn died in 2010.

Mike Konopacki has collaborated on five collections of cartoons, and his work is regularly syndicated. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

Paul Buhle is a senior lecturer in history at Brown University and the editor of the Encyclopedia of the American Left, among other books. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

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People's History of American Empire 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Eric_Memish More than 1 year ago
           A People’s History of American Empire by Howard Zinn was not exactly what I had expected it to be. First of all I did not expect the book to be a comic book and second of all I did not expect the book to be mostly about corruption in the government of the United States.             I personally did not like the fact that it was a comic book because I was hoping for a more traditional book. I also found the book to be a little too radical for me because of his anti-government opinion. However, I did find that many of the conspiracies were very interesting and the book provided a lot of new knowledge that is not taught in history class.               If you are looking for a book that is all about conspiracy theories in an easy to read and comprehend comic book…  this is the book you are looking for               If you are looking for a book of cold, hard facts about United States history… look elsewhere
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great started for people that are curious about reading Howard Zinn books.
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TruthBKnown More than 1 year ago
As a work of fiction, in which category this book rightly belongs, this is about the worst possible read there is. It would be far better to write one's own work of fiction and read that. Even an illiterate imbecile would create something of more worth. As a work of historical revisionism it is still an abysmal waste of time (although torturedly amusing so long as one remembers that the authors are attempting to force an ideologically poisonous point of view down your throat). However, this book purports to be a history and as such it would best be used by survivalists to make fires.