Welcome to week four of A People’s Readalong. A group of us (see the end of the post for the group, and please shout out if I’ve overlooked you) will be reading one chapter a week from Howard Zinn’s classic history book, A People’s History of the United States. We’ll be finished sometime in July.
This week we’re focusing on Chapter Four: Tyranny Is Tyranny. Zinn discusses the years leading up to the American Revolution, which gave our forefathers an excuse to direct the masses unhappiness towards England. Since England saw the colonies as a source of needed revenue, and the colonies were increasingly wanting less rule from England, the time was right for rebellion. Zinn states that this was the beginning of the trend in US politics of the upper class mobilizing the energy of the lower classes. The ruling class would recognize grievances and give just a bit, but not enough to jeopardize their own power and wealth. Instead, they would channel the energies of the unhappy to meet their own agendas. And this is what happened with the Revolution. Except for a few holdouts (Zinn offers up the Regulators as one unhappy group who later remained largely neutral during the Revolution), the educated and wealthy who were in positions of power were able to channel the lower classes into rebelling against England…instead of them.
I’m still enjoying the book, and finding it surprisingly easy to read, with one exception. Okay, two. 1) I find it hard to the grasp Zinn’s point for each chapter. While I understand what he’s getting at, I struggle to summarize his points for each chapter. And this is tied to 2) the almost overwhelming amount of info he packs into a short chapter. The names and groups get to be too much sometimes. I’m not getting a sense of the characters behind any of the names, and consequently, I find it hard to remember any particulars. So I’m left with the feeling that Zinn is trying to over-prove his point.
Still, this is a minor criticism. I’m not unhappy with the book…just finding it difficult to reframe into my own thoughts, if that makes sense.
How are you guys doing doing with the reading?