Who Hijacked Our Country

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A People’s History of the United States

This book by Howard Zinn is packed with fascinating information. If you want to know what really happened — blemishes and all — this book offers an unabridged no-holds-barred history of our country, starting in 1492.

The only reason I even know about the book is because of a column by neocon spewbag Dennis Prager. He was ranting and foaming at the mouth about it in this column which appeared in our local paper. Anyone who reads this evil book will be “manipulated into believing that America is a bad country, certainly no better than others.” He describes the book as “essentially a proctologist's view of American history.”

I assume the website doesn’t contain the entire book, but there are some huge excerpts here. Columbus’ first encounter with Native Americans (it wasn’t pretty); a chilling description of the first slave ship unloading its cargo at Jamestown in 1619; the “other civil war” in the early 1800s; new insights into our Vietnam invasion. There are 24 chapters in all.

If you don’t purchase the book, bookmarking the website is the next best thing.

I already knew a lot of this information from reading Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen. This is an excellent world history book. It’s probably less detailed about American history than the Howard Zinn book since it’s more of a world overview. Both books are excellent antidotes to the whitewashed sanitized “history” we've all been taught.

I've never understood why it’s supposed to be “negative” or “anti-American” to teach history the way it really happened, warts and all. Every country — including this one — has a history of violence, war and unimaginable cruelty. What's the purpose of suppressing this information? It seems pointless to take a vibrant living multi-layered history and condense it into a squeaky-clean feelgood Leave It To Beaver episode.

These two books are a big 180 from the condensed simplified “America to the rescue!” tripe we all studied in school. And we have the same contrast with today’s current news coverage. Listen to a scripted sanitized story on the evening news. Then check out the same story on one of the “alternative” news websites, or a foreign news source. Even in Canada and Europe, their coverage of American issues is much more complete and objective than anything you'll get from our own mainstream “media.”

Generations from now when historians are writing about this era, what will they write? The bland sterile news we're getting today from the mainstream media is probably what future generations will read in their "official" history textbooks. Hopefully there will also be a few authors like Howard Zinn and James Loewen who will tell what really happened.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Blogger rockync said...

Thank you for this link! I've bookmarked it so I can continue to read it. Very enlightening stuff.

March 18, 2008 at 5:40 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Rockync: It really is a great site. I plan on referring to it regularly.

March 18, 2008 at 6:03 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

The truly honest writers are bombarded by the lies of the masses who have an agenda.

March 18, 2008 at 6:36 PM  
Blogger Bunny ~N~ Early said...

Thanks for the tip on a couple of good books. I bet you didn't know that your link has already been taken down. Why does that not surprise me.

March 18, 2008 at 9:08 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Larry: True, honest writers are pretty much disdained by the powerful.

Bunny~N~Early: Shit, you're right. I just checked. Hopefully it's just a temporary server problem or something. Otherwise, a web search for that book title is bound to bring something up.

March 18, 2008 at 10:29 PM  
Blogger Carlos said...

Where do they grow people like Dennis Prager? That guy's amazing. I'll be reading me a little Zinn.

March 19, 2008 at 2:34 AM  
Blogger Lew Scannon said...

The brainwashing starts early because once you can get them to believe a big lie, you can get them to believe anything (to paraphrase George Carlin).

March 19, 2008 at 5:23 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

Both are excellent books. I mean, we're the most special of all countries with our special specialness, you commie bastard.

It's amazing how some people simply refuse to accept fact. We're a country, one among many, better in some respects than a few, worse in some than others.

March 19, 2008 at 6:00 AM  
Blogger LET'S TALK said...

I don't understand how some will do anything to hold back the truth about Americas past.

There's so much that our children are being taught that is simply not true and factual. We now know that some of the history we were introduced to are simply lies or half truths.

What I have found out is that a lot of Americans dont want to hear the truth.

March 19, 2008 at 6:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I first encountered Zinn's book while I was visiting a friend at his school and was rummaging through books at the bookstore to keep myself occupied. I ended up sitting in the book store for 4 hrs reading Zinn's book. I had to buy it since I couldn't put it down. I read Loewen's book my junior year of college. Very insightful books.

I was a history major(medieval concentration) in college and I find that even having debates with some of my colleagues who knew as much about American history as I did refuse to believe that Helen Keller was a socialist or that Andrew Jackson was a murderer. We denounce Hitler and laud Roosevelt. Both men had good domestic policies which stabilized and produced growth in their respective societies. But we never remember that Roosevelt put Japanese Americans in internment camps which I find equally disgusting as the ghettoes in Warsaw. The job of the historian is to be objective but if the people I graduated with are the ones who will be teaching our children, then I'd rather send my kids to school abroad.


March 19, 2008 at 7:31 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Carlos: Yeah, Dennis Prager is a piece of work, or a piece of something anyway. I don’t know much about him but I think he was one of the originators of that rightwing talking point “you can't be against the war AND support the troops.”

Lew: Yup, the earlier the better. If we can get ‘em reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and singing the national anthem by kindergarten or first grade, they’ll be putty in our hands.

Randal: Hey, pal, America is Number One and don’t you forget it 

Let’s Talk: I think that’s it, a lot of people would rather just wear blinders and not know the whole story. It doesn’t make any sense to me; I think the more knowledge, the better, whether that knowledge is pretty or not.

Jo: Yeah, it’s funny how we denounce modern-day Germany and Japan for not teaching about their governments’ atrocities that led up to WWII. And yet that’s exactly what our own schools are doing. I think I read in Loewen’s book (I read it quite awhile ago) that history majors — especially if they get advanced degrees in history — eventually learn most of this “suppressed” information. If that’s true, I don’t understand that at all. They know all this dark seamy inside information and then they go ahead and teach this whitewashed Ward Cleaver version of history. Go figure.

March 19, 2008 at 8:30 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

NOTE: I'm on jury duty today, so it'll be awhile before I can get back to the computer and publish comments, etc.

March 19, 2008 at 8:33 AM  
Blogger Ken Albin said...

Actual history is always colored by expectations and subjective filtering. I think that almost all historical descriptions are fiction.

March 19, 2008 at 1:26 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

I bought myself a copy of the Zinn book, then my daughter stole it from me. She said it's a great book. Now I just need to figure out how to get it back from her.

What's wrong with teaching kids that America has had problems during the course of our history? To teach otherwise is to create a nation of people like we have now, who view our country as superior to every other country in the world, without question. I think it breeds nationalism and mass delusion about our country if the truth is witheld.

March 19, 2008 at 3:01 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Ken: True, there's no such thing as a totally objective unbiased history. But I think we should try to make it as complete and detailed as possible, even though the result will be imperfect.

Snave: That's exactly it. We've all been indoctrinated since early grade school to believe "America is the greatest country in the world," that we're the only country that stands for freedom and liberty, etc. No wonder millions of people have been brainwashed to believe that any criticism of the American government is the equivalent of "hating America" or being a communist or a terrorist sympathizer.

March 19, 2008 at 5:35 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

"The belief that there is only one truth and that oneself is in possession of it seems to me the deepest root of all evil that is in the world."

Max Born

March 19, 2008 at 7:56 PM  
Blogger History Is A Weapon said...

re: "I assume the website doesn’t contain the entire book, but there are some huge excerpts here."
ummm, most of the book is online. In recent editions, there have been some slight updates in the last chapter which we haven't included yet, but we have the rest of the book.

March 19, 2008 at 8:01 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Larry: Excellent quote. Very true.

History Is A Weapon: Thanks for the information. That's a great site you have; valuable work you're doing.

March 19, 2008 at 8:17 PM  
Blogger Candace said...

Dang, I just got back from a trip to the Barnes & Noble. Sounds like an excellent book. I worry about people who want to sanitize events - you know, people like Bush, who got all goose-pimply over the "romance" soldiers must feel fighting the war in Iraq.

March 19, 2008 at 9:08 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Candace: Yeah, you can tell Bush is one of those "sanitizers." They aren't even allowing photos of soldiers' coffins returning from Iraq. Dumbya couldn't possibly have his head buried any deeper in the sand (or wherever his head is buried).

March 19, 2008 at 9:39 PM  
Anonymous JollyRoger said...

Prager? The only thing he's good for is stirring up the wingtards, who I can then pillory for sport. I find it hard to believe this moron could actually sell books.

March 19, 2008 at 11:35 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

JR: Our local paper printed his column a week or 2 ago. Once a week they print a wingtard column; they usually have Maureen Dowd on the same page for "equal time." The wingnut column is usually Michelle Malkin, but for some reason it was Dennis Prager that day. He's good for a laugh anyway.

March 19, 2008 at 11:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read Zinn many years ago and Loewen when it first came out. Loewen took the top 20 History Textbooks in the country (many states use the same books) and examined them and that's how "Lies" came about. Loewen is no stranger to that controversy as many years ago he was contracted to do a history textbook for the state of Mississippi. The book showed pictures of lynching, Mississippi refused to pay and when it went to court (Loewen vs Turnipseed) Mississippi argued how this book offends the great state of Mississippi the Judge interrupted and asked just one question
"were there lynchings in the state of Mississippi?"

The state said yes and the case was closed.

Dr. Loewen has two other books I strongly recommend.

"Lies across America" in which he examines monuments and tells the truth about them (Including why we have so many Confederate Civil War Monuments across the country -who won?)

and Sundown Towns, in which he talks about all white towns with an historical policy that the minorities (specifically blacks) leave the town by sundown. Guess what? None of them are in the South.

A few years ago I invited Dr. Loewen to speak at a company function and as part of it gave him a tour of the Bay Area showing former (and still) Black Shanty towns set up during the war to house the workers in which the next generation was still there as the Suburb next door refused to assimilate them.

I'm trying to get him a do a book on how foreign history textbooks view America - one was done but it was so dry I found it hard and boring to read. Loewen could add much more punch to the story.

It was also in "lies" that Loewen pointed out that the Nazi's efficient planning when rounding up the Jews was based from American Plans when they rounded up the Indians and put them in reservations.

He says when I does a radio interview the first question he is commonly asked is

"why are you trying to re-write history?"

I call him friend


March 20, 2008 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger PoliShifter said...

I've been mulling doing a post precisely on some of America's History which hits at Wright's 'God Damn America' that people can't seem to get enough of.

I think Wright mispoke, he should have said 'God Damn The American Government'.

For it is true that our government has done horrible things starting with Slavery, genocide against Native Americans, biological warfare against Native Americans (giving them blankets with small pox), exploitation of Chinese labor to build the transcontinental railroad, institutionalized racism via Segregation, the internment of the Japanese, the Tuskegee Experiment where black soldiers were given syphilis, all the way up to today with Gitmo and Abu Ghaib.

People are in charge of the Government, as such some timmes these People do horrible things. God Damn them.

But the concept known as America is wonderful. Our institutions, however tatered, such as The Consitutiton and Declaration of Independence, are wonderful.

When Wright said God Damn America I think people think he meant God Damn the Ideal of America.

I don't think that is what he meant. I think he meant God Damn the government for some of the horrible things they have done.

March 20, 2008 at 11:07 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Erik: "Rewriting history" -- yeah, I can't believe that talking point response that so many people react with. The "rewriting" has been done by all of those sanitized whitewashed textbooks we all learned from.

I'm sure foreign textbooks would be a more accurate portrayal of American history than our own biased textbooks. For current news you can certainly get more accurate reporting on American issues from foreign sources. My favorite site for that is Watching America (linked in my sidebar). It's mostly a collection of news items about the U.S. written by foreign newspapers. We can see ourselves through somebody else's eyes.

PoliShifter: I haven't paid that much attention to Wright's speeches and all the controversy. But he sure has pushed some buttons. Even if he mis-spoke, millions of people will always take offense at any criticism of America's government. Our government (like every government) has done some terrible things over the years. This needs to be acknowledged.

March 20, 2008 at 11:43 AM  

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