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A Young People's History of the United States Vol 1 & 2

Book Review by Rosa Hirsch, July/August 2007

Howard Zinn, Seven Stories, £10.99 and £11.99

Howard Zinn has adapted his People's History of the United States for younger readers, but in no way do these books pull their punches. Zinn feels the younger reader is entitled to look at US history honestly.

Volume one begins with Columbus's voyage to America when an entire race, the Arawaks, on the Bahamas Islands were wiped out. It goes on to cover the colonists' treatment of the native Indians, the war for independence and how this affected the poor. Zinn writes about women in early America who are often overlooked in history books, including the working women who led some of the first industrial strikes and Harriet Tubman who ran the Underground Railway helping slaves escape. Younger readers will be interested in the ten-day strike of the child mill workers protesting for a change in their lunch hour.

These books are a pleasure to read - the second volume covers right up to the Iraq war - and they're broken up by illustrations and photographs which bring them to life. Zinn tells history entirely through the eyes of the oppressed, whether that be the black and white servants in the Bacon Rebellion or the slave, David Walker, who encouraged blacks to fight for freedom. He gives a real insight in to history that is often left out of text books. Highly recommended.

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