Welcome to week five 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.
A long time ago (we’re talking back in my college days, which was (holy crap!) twenty years ago), my college roommate and I travelled around Europe with our Eurail passes (man, I loved that Eurail pass). After three months in England, we spent seven weeks barrelling through the major cities of Europe.
What does this have to do with A People History, you ask? Well, as I was reading this week’s chapter (Chapter 5: A Kind of Revolution), all I could thing was “good grief, it’s A.F.R.” And that instantly transported me back to Europe, when after visiting museum after museum after museum, my roomie and I hit museum overload somewhere in Italy and started referring to every museum thereafter as A.F.M. Which affectionately stands for Another Fucking Museum.
Which means that here I am at Chapter 5 with its discussion of Shays’ Rebellion and all I can think to say about it is “it was Another Fucking Rebellion.”
Seriously, people. Zinn obviously loved himself some rebellion. And yeah, that’s kinda the point of the whole book, but I’m a little maxed out on rebellions and it’s only chapter 5.
Okay…enough of Debbie Downer.
Chapter 5 is about the American Revolution (aka the G. of F. R. (in softdrink speak, that’s the grand-daddy of fucking rebellions) and how the rich got richer and the powerful got more powerful, as well as the years after the Revolution. What popped for me in this chapter wasn’t the Revolution (nor was it Shays’ Rebellion, obviously), but the fact that the new government seized all of the land belonging to the defeated British (well, unless you were besties with George Washington, and then you were okay) and redistributed it mostly to tenant farmers to bolster up the middle class, who would then act as a buffer between the increasingly obscenely wealthy and powerful and the disenfranchised poor (aka those pesky rabble-rousers). How come I never either heard of nor thought about what happened to all that land that guys like Lord Baltimore held?
Anyhoosie, I should probably fess up to the fact that colonial American history was never my fave (unless I happen to be walking around Boston, and then suddenly it’s interesting). In fact, American history only starts to really interest me when we hit the Roaring ’20s (flappers! Prohibition!). So I expect I’ll be pretty grumpy as we continue through the 1700s and into the 1800s. Nothing against Zinn, but even the people’s history of the American Revolution isn’t really doing it for me.
How is everyone else holding up?