Howard Zinn Critique

649 Words3 Pages
In the reading of A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, Zinn takes a different approach than most traditional historians. He chooses to concentrate on the personal experiences and struggles of the everyday people, rather than the view of the leaders or “State”
Zinn 's primary position is that if historical education focused on the historical perspective of those who are normally excluded from the usual accounts, students and people would gain a wider and broader understanding of history: “The treatment of heroes (Columbus) and their victims (the Arawak)-the quiet acceptance of conquest and murder in the name of progress- is only one aspect of a certain approach to history, in which the past is told from the point of view of governments, conquerors...leaders.” (Zinn 6) For Zinn this process of reevaluation is vital to understanding history and getting a more accurate depiction. This becomes one of the most important parts of Zinn 's argument as he begins to "question" and better assess what defines "progress”.
A People’s History of the United States begins with a retelling of
…show more content…
Using excerpts from Columbus’ own journals as well as the writings of La Casas, Zinn exposes Columbus as a man who was greedy and hungry for power. He had no hesitation in torturing, enslaving and killing thousands of men, women and children in order to obtain these goals. Columbus and his motivations demonstrate a clear clash of cultures between Europeans and the Arawak. In his writings, Columbus sees that the Native Americans are strong and well-built, but have no means of weapons except spears made of canes. In Columbus’ mind, these factors make the native people the perfect subject to be conquered and made into slaves (Zinn 1). Zinn’s use of Columbus’ own journal adds an element of accountability and authenticity. Using these excerpts strengthens Zinn’s position because he is able to utilize Columbus’ own words to tear down the false persona that historians have given
Open Document