Zinn on the greed of Columbus and the altruism of the natives

In a 700 page book, Zinn spends about a half dozen pages on Columbus’ four voyages, but he manages to pack a lot of nonsense into those few pages.

Here we will look at Zinn’s treatment of the native populations of the new world with whom Columbus first made contact. While Zinn is careful to use many of Columbus’ own words, the slicing and dicing and re-contextualizing paints a misleadingly black and white portrait – that of naiveté, sincerity, and generosity on the part of the natives, and greed and thuggishness on the part of Columbus and his men.

Continue reading

Nazi and Allied bombing campaigns morally equivalent, according to Zinn


This is an excerpt from a review of Zinn’s book by Stanford University Education Professor Sam Wineburg:

In his lead-up to a discussion of the atomic bomb, Zinn makes this claim: “At the start of World War II German planes dropped bombs on Rotterdam in Holland, Coventry in England, and elsewhere. Roosevelt had described these as ‘inhuman barbarism that has profoundly shocked the conscience of humanity.’”[1] Zinn then adds: “These German bombings [of Rotterdam and Coventry] were very small compared with the British and American bombings of German cities.”[2] He then lists the names of some of the most devastating Allied bombing campaigns, including the most notorious, the firebombing of Dresden.

Continue reading

Columbus makes landfall in the New World, Zinn primes the reader

Zinn opens A People’s History of the United States with a re-imagining of Columbus’ voyages to the New World. Zinn’s version of events is one in which Columbus is blinded by a single minded avarice, the sailors are ruthless thugs, the rulers back in Spain are Christian looneys, and all the natives of the new world are virtuous in every sense of the word.

Continue reading

Zinn perpetuates myth of 1950s anti-Communist “book burning”

In Chapter 16 of A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn uses a string of half-truths to present a stilted portrait of legendary Cold Warrior, Sen. Joseph McCarthy. In a clear allusion to the Nazi book burnings of the early 1930s, Zinn presents McCarthy as a paranoid bully, chasing down innocent Foreign Service workers and ordering the removal and destruction of any texts he personally deemed too subversive.

Continue reading