The Twentieth Century: A People's History

Overview

Containing just the twentieth-century chapters from Howard Zinn's bestselling A People's History of the United States, this revised and updated edition includes two new chapters -- covering Clinton's presidency, the 2000 Election, and the "war on terrorism."

Highlighting not just the usual terms of presidential administrations and congressional activities, this book provides you with a "bottom-to-top" perspective, giving voice to our nation's minorities and letting the stories ...

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The Twentieth Century: A People's History

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Overview

Containing just the twentieth-century chapters from Howard Zinn's bestselling A People's History of the United States, this revised and updated edition includes two new chapters -- covering Clinton's presidency, the 2000 Election, and the "war on terrorism."

Highlighting not just the usual terms of presidential administrations and congressional activities, this book provides you with a "bottom-to-top" perspective, giving voice to our nation's minorities and letting the stories of such groups as African Americans, women, Native Americans, and the laborers of all nationalities be told in their own words.

"Professor Zinn writes with an enthusiasm rarely encountered in the leaden prose of academic history."--Eric Foner, New York Times Book Review

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Editorial Reviews

Eric Foner
Zinn writes with an enthusiasm rarely encountered in the leaden prose of academic history. -- NY Times Book Review
Eric Foner
Proffessor Zinn writes with an enthusiasm rarely encountered in the leaden prose of academic history. . . . [His] chapter on Vietnam—bringing to life once again the fire-free zones, secret bombings, massactes, and cover-ups—should be required reading.
New York Times Book Reviw
Philadelphia Bulletin
Howard Zinn's history is a very different one. It's about the folks at the bottom, the people. .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060530341
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/4/2003
  • Series: Harper Perennial
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 497,179
  • Product dimensions: 8.04 (w) x 4.98 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Howard Zinn (1922-2010) was a historian, playwright, and social activist. His many books include A People's History of the United States, which has sold more than two million copies.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Empire and the People

Theodore Roosevelt wrote to a friend in the year 1897: "In strict confidence . . . I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one."

The year of the massacre at Wounded Knee, 1890, it was officially declared by the Bureau of the Census that the internal frontier was closed. The profit system, with its natural tendency for expansion, had already begun to look overseas. The severe depression, that began in 1893 strengthened an idea developing ',;within the political and financial elite of the country: that overseas markets for American goods might relieve the problem of `' underconsumption at home and prevent the economic crises that in the 1890s brought class war.

And would not a foreign adventure deflect some of the rebellious energy that went into strikes and protest movements toward an external enemy? Would it not unite people with government, with the armed forces, instead of against them? This was probably not a conscious plan among most of the elite-but a natural development from the twin drives of capitalism and nationalism.

Expansion overseas was not a new idea. Even before the war against Mexico carried the United States to the Pacific, the Monroe Doctrine looked southward into and beyond the Caribbean. Issued in 1823 when the countries of Latin America were winning independence from Spanish control, it made plain to European nations that the United States considered Latin America its sphere of influence. Not long after, some Americans began thinking into the Pacific: of Hawaii, Japan, and the great markets ofChina.

There was more than thinking; the American armed forces had made forays overseas. A State Department list, "Instances of the Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad 1798-1945" (presented by Secretary of State Dean Rusk to a Senate committee in 1962 to cite precedents for the use of armed force against Cuba), shows 103 interventions in the affairs of other countries between 1798 and 1895. A sampling from the list, with the exact description given by the State Department:

1852-53--Argentina. Marines were landed and maintained in Buenos Aires to protect American interests during a revolution.
1853--Nicaragua--to protect American lives and interests during political disturbances.
1853-54--Japan--The "Opening of Japan" and the Perry Expedition. [The State Department does not give more details, but this involved the use of warships to force Japan to open its ports to the United States.]
1853-54--Ryukyu and Bonin Islands--Commodore Perry on three visits before going to Japan and while waiting for a reply from Japan made a naval demonstration; landing marines twice, and secured a coaling concession from the ruler of Naha on Okinawa. He also demonstrated in the Bonin Islands. All to secure facilities for commerce.
1854--Nicaragua--San Juan del Norte [Greytown was destroyed to avenge an insult to the American Minister to Nicaragua.]
1855--Uruguay--U.S. and European naval forces landed to protect American interests during an attempted revolution in Montevideo. 1859-China-For the protection of American interests in Shanghai.
1860--Angola, Portuguese West Africa--To protest  American lives and property at Kissembo when the natives became troublesome.
1893--Hawaii--Ostensible to protect American lives and property; actually to promote a provisional government under Sanford B: Dole. This action was disavowed by the United States.
1894--Nicaragua--To protect American interests at Bluefields following a revolution.

Thus, by the 1890s, there had been much experience in overseas probes and interventions. The ideology of expansion was widespread in the upper circles of military men, politicians, businessmen-and even among some of the leaders of farmers' movements who thought foreign markets would help them.

Captain A. T. Mahan of the U.S. navy, a popular propagandist for expansion, greatly influenced Theodore Roosevelt and other American leaders. The countries with the biggest navies would inherit the earth, he said. "Americans must now begin to look outward." Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts wrote in a magazine article:

In the interests of our commerce . . . we should build the Nicaragua canal, and for the protection of that canal and for the sake of our commercial supremacy in the Pacific we should control the Hawai ian islands and maintain our influence in Samoa . . . . and when the Nicaraguan canal is built, the island of Cuba . . . will become a necessity . . . . The great nations are rapidly absorbing for their future expansion and their present defense all the waste places of the earth. It is a movement which makes for civilization and the advancement of the race. As one of the great nations of the world the United States must not fall out of the line of march.

A Washington Post editorial on the eve of the Spanish-American war:

A new consciousness seems to have come upon us-the consciouspess of strength-and with it a new appetite, the yearning to show our strength....Ambition, interest, land hunger, pride, the mere joy of fighting, whatever it may be, we are animated by a new sensation.

The Twentieth Century. Copyright © by Howard Zinn. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

Preface
1 The Empire and the People 1
2 The Socialist Challenge 31
3 War is the Health of the State 77
4 Self-help in Hard Times 99
5 A People's War? 137
6 "Or Does It Explode?" 182
7 The Impossible Victory: Vietnam 213
8 Surprises 255
9 The Seventies: Under Control? 301
10 Carter-Reagan-Bush: The Bipartisan Consensus 328
11 The Unreported Resistance 376
12 The Clinton Presidency and the Crisis of Democracy 413
13 The Coming Revolt of the Guards 431
Bibliography 445
Index 459
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2008

    Worth seeing the other side of history

    Many call Zinn, Marxist, Socialist, and other supposedly derogatory terms. I don't care what Zinn is, yes, he gives opinions on history, yes, he has a radical take on things. But frankly, we need that nowadays. Zinn is an excellent write and is very easy to read, which is amazing in itself for a history book. And what Zinn offers in this book is a plethora of historical facts that you will find few other places. CHeck out what history is like from those who aren't in power, and I'm sure you'll appreciate where Zinn is coming from.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2009

    Unbalanced view of American History

    This book was purchased for my son's high school American History class. I've been reading along to help him study. Perhaps I missed the disclaimer somewhere stating that this book has a specific perspective (the title does include "A people's History on the United States" so I guess I should have been warned).

    If this was the only book on American History you read, you would be convinced capitalism is the root of all evil in the world, communists are simply missunderstood, unions can do no wrong and the United States government is run for the benefit of big corporations.

    That said, I found it interesting and enjoyed see how distorted some people's views of the world are.

    0 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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