A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present

This is a new edition of the radical social history of America from Columbus to the present.This powerful and controversial study turns orthodox American history upside down to portray the social turmoil behind the “march of progress”.

Known for its lively, clear prose as well as its scholarly research, A People’s History is the only volume to tell America’s story from the point of view of – and in the words of – America’s women, factory workers, African-Americans, Native Americans, the working poor, and immigrant laborers. As historian Howard Zinn shows, many of America’s greatest battles – the fights for fair wage, an eight-hour workday, child-labor laws, health and safety standards, universal suffrage, women’s rights, racial equality – were carried out at the grassroots level, against bloody resistance. Covering Christopher Columbus’s arrival through the Clinton years A People’s History of the United States, which was nominated for the American Book Award in 1981, is an insightful analysis of the most important events in US history. –This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

This powerful survey was written as a response to a widespread demand for a serious general history of the United States from the time of Columbus to the present, written from a radical, non-establishment point of view. It was intended as a counterweight to the many conventional American histories which chronicle the country’s story through the activities of political leaders, heroes and saviours of the nation. Here instead is history ‘from the bottom up’. Powerful, fluent and argumentative, its vigorous reinterpretation of the American achievement, and its cost, has provoked debate amongst historians and laymen alike since it first appeared in 1980.

This new edition brings the story up-to-date with a new chapter on the Clinton presidency, terrorism and the move to war.

“Zinn has written a brilliant and moving history of the American people from the point of view of those who have been exploited politically and economically and whose plight has been largely omitted from most histories. …the book is an excellent antidote to establishment history. Seldom have quotations been so effectively used; the stories of blacks, women, Indians, and poor laborers of all nationalities are told in their own words. While the book is precise enough to please specialists, it should satisfy any adult reader.”


“…he tells an important and neglected part of the truth”

Marcus Cunliffe, THE GUARDIAN

“…he succeeds admirably in his second objective of ‘disclosing those hidden episodes of the past when, even if in brief flashes, people showed their ability to resist, to join together, occasionally to win’”

Charles Glass, NEW STATESMAN

“Professor Zinn writes with an enthusiasm rarely encountered in the leaden prose of academic history, and his text is studded with telling quotations from labor leaders, war resisters and fugitive slaves.”


Until his retirement, Howard Zinn was Professor of Political Science at Boston University, and his book – passionate, critical, even disrespectful as it can be – remains the work of a scholar as well as a radical.

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