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review 2015-10-26 19:26
Review: An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States
An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States (ReVisioning American History) - Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

First off, let me say that this book is great and it is desperately needed. While I have long turned my ears to the cries of injustice, the echoes of the indigenous peoples of the Americas have rarely made the impact they do here. Why? Because we are taught so little. Because in the spectrum of U.S. history, it is relatively ancient. Because there are so few today who raise their voices and demand to tell the story. Sure, we know the stories we were told in elementary school were erroneous. We know Columbus was not worth our celebration. We know Thanksgiving is a lie. We may even know the big events: The Trail of Tears, Little Bighorn, etc. I may be speaking out of place, but I would venture to guess most of us, even those who know the history of injustice in the United States, do not know all this. Certainly, I did not.

And so this book is needed. The genocide, the broken treaties, the lies, the programs that blatantly dressed in the garments of unabashed racism (all of which continued much much longer than I had imagined)--all that is spelled out so clearly here. And I must sincerely thank the author for having the courage and insight to put it all on paper.

That said, An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States reads a little too heavily like a textbook. And like other textbooks, it is a textbook with an agenda. In some ways, that's good, because we need a textbook that tells the other side of the story; but in the same way school textbooks imply that Indians are uncivilized brutes, An Indigenous Peoples' History... implies that the white man is savage and greedy. This angle doesn't bode well for a work that should educate, not finger point. In fact, this book does little to paint the indigenous people of North America as much more than victims; I would've appreciated learning more about their history sans the white man. If An Indigenous Peoples' History... is indeed meant to counter the school textbook, it is my feeling that it should stand as an anti-textbook and bear as little similarity to the textbook lies as possible.

Additionally, the book is repetitive at times, foreshadowing an event and then, when chronologically appropriate, retelling those details in almost the same words. Surely, this book would not have suffered from tighter editing.

Minor quibbles aside, this book is important. It may not be the most riveting story of indigenous persecution (though it has turned me onto finding some of those works), but it is likely the most complete, relatively concise work on the subject. Those interested in or who feel obligated to learn of the injustices perpetrated by the United States throughout history should consider this one an essential read.

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review 2015-10-06 15:41
Detailed and fascinating account of America’s first First Family
The Washingtons: George and Martha, "Join'd by Friendship, Crown'd by Love" - Flora Fraser

While this doesn’t flow with the feeling of a novel, source material is too scant for that, Flora Fraser has still managed to put together a fascinating, often moving, portrait of America’s first First Family, and through them a history of the Revolutionary War and the early years of the United States, including the issue of slavery since the Washingtons had enslaved people in their service. Unfortunately, very little correspondence between George and Martha Washington survives, Martha burned all that was in her possession when George died, but Fraser fleshes out their life and relationship using what there is, including diary entries, letters written to and from other people, and precise requests for clothing, cloth and other goods that the couple made to merchants.

 

The book’s meticulous details are the basis of its strength, and Fraser includes all her sources in the Notes section. I was especially interested in the opening chapters featuring George Washington as a pragmatic young man and the early days of his courtship of and then marriage to Martha. I knew least about those times, and I enjoyed encountering Martha as attractive, wealthy young widow, managing her first husband’s estates and raising their children on her own. This interlude of independence served her well when George left their home in Mount Vernon to lead the Continental Army.

 

In spite, or maybe because, of the many difficulties in their lives, including the premature death of all of Martha’s children, the relationship between the Washingtons was charmingly close, and George’s military colleagues were glad when Martha joined him at army encampments because his mood always improved when she was around. The book goes on to cover the politically tumultuous years after the Revolution, George’s two presidential terms, and the brief time the Washingtons were able to enjoy retirement from public life. The last chapter concludes with Martha’s death in 1802, three years after George passed away.

 

Source: jaylia3.wordpress.com/2015/10/06/detailed-and-fascinating-of-americas-first-first-family
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text 2014-06-28 15:55
A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present By Howard Zinn $2.49
A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present - Howard Zinn

Great Book! 

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review 2014-05-05 23:39
A Different Perspective
A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present (1995 edition) - Howard Zinn
The Twentieth Century: A People's History - Howard Zinn

I use the first book at least once during each of my American history classes and keep it close at hand for reference when reading other American history books. What sets this book apart from other extensive American history books is that Zinn focused on the people of American history, rather than events (which often are just background for spotlighting the people). Seeing this perspective helps to fill in the voids left by other books that focus on movements and events.

 

I would be remiss if I did not discuss the big elephant in the room  -- Zinn's political leanings; if you are not familiar with Zinn, he is a leftist political observer, historian, and writer. Those leanings do show up in this writing, mostly when he is writing of immigrant and lower scoio-economic classes of people. If you are more on the conservative side of the political spectrum, those leanings are more of a shout than a whisper. It is also male-heavy, so it could be used as a companion to books dedicated to women's history or any other minority history books. I would encourage all people along the political spectrum to read this book, as it gives so much detail to the people behind and in front of the big movements and events; yet I would recommend this book as a companion piece to other resources and not as a stand-alone, which is why I took a star off the rating.

 

As for the second book -- I read the first book back in 2000 and it was already five years old, so there was little on the presidency of Clinton. I picked up The Twentieth Century as that (small) book picks up where the first one ends and takes you through G. W. Bush's first term/9-11/OEF & OIF. Overall, both books 4/5 stars.

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review 2014-01-08 00:00
A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present
A People's History of the United States: 1492 to Present - Howard Zinn History of the U.S. from a Marxist & humanist perspective.
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