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Perhaps the most interesting book on American history, Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present, allows the reader to understand life in America through the viewpoints of the people who have been largely overlooked by history books mainly because their experiences do not shed positive light on the American experience.  These people include the women of America, belonging among the so-called disadvantaged groups; the workers in factories who have been playing a central role in American life since the Industrial Revolution; the Native and the African Americans, including slaves; the poor working class; in addition to laborers who came from faraway lands to become immigrants in America.  Seeing that these different classes of people have very much been a part and parcel of the American experience, by including them in his book of American history, Zinn has presented a realistic account of life in America.The first part of A People’s History of the United States starts with Christopher Columbus and ends with the history of the Industrial Revolution in America.  The atrocities committed by Columbus’ crew; the plight of the Native Americans when the English settlers arrived in America; slavery of the Africans; the American Revolutionary War; resistance to the inequalities that women faced in early America; the Mexican-American War; the Civil War; and the movements against corruption at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution are all described in great depth.  The second part of the book concerns the history of the United States in the twentieth century.  Zinn has written about American imperialism; the rise of anarchism and socialism; America’s role in World War I; the government’s struggle to overcome the Great Depression; the Civil Rights movement; and of course, the Vietnam War.  The book ends with a description of the Clinton presidency, sustaining its claim that the American government has pretty much controlled the American society since the time of the founding fathers.All in all, Zinn’s book is a revelation for readers who have been brainwashed to believe in the positive side of the negative experiences of people in America throughout history.  As an example, most Americans must have heard that Columbus was a great man without whom America would not have been discovered by the European settlers.  Such readers would be shocked to know that Columbus was actually a manipulative man who immediately thought about subjugating the naïve natives of America at the time he arrived on their land.  He considered making the natives do whatever he and his crew would want.  What is more, the man claimed to have forcefully taken natives so as to learn about their land.  There is no indication that Columbus could have considered humane practices in his relation with the natives.  Rather, he appeared in America as a brute searching for servants to establish his mastery over people.  No wonder, the English settlers who followed him to America had to be violent in their efforts toward colonization.Indeed, the history of America according to Zinn may sadden the reader who has always believed in America as the golden land of opportunity where the American Dream is lived by all.  As a matter of fact, A People’s History of the United States describes the land of opportunity as a system run on the basis of oppression, where people may kick and destroy others to feel a sense of mastery.  When Columbus killed the Indians, and took many of them as prisoners, the system of oppression in America had already been established.  Since that time, numberless people in America have experienced hardships that are generally disregarded by the unrealistic books on American history.  Zinn’s book is extraordinary in that it describes the reality behind one of the greatest nations in modern history.

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