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A Study Group for Zinn's People's History

people's history



May 31st, 2007

Mod update

black hand and heart
Next chapters

Looks like we are behind! We never discussed the April chapters (8-9); I still have to read the last 20 of chapter 9. It is now the end of May, and we were supposed to read Chapters 10 and 11. And starting tomorrow we were supposed to start chapters 12-13. Do folks think they can get through chapters 13 by the last week of June? I would really like to stay on schedule, and I'm going to get back to this. Thanks!

Apr - Chapters 8-9
May - Chapters 10-11
Jun - Chapters 12-13

May 25th, 2007


end corporate aristocracy
Hey folks,

We never had a discussion on the two chapters for this month. I still have to read the last 20 pages. What do you folks want to do? I'm happy to discuss the chapters for this month and next in June.


May 1st, 2007

Hey folks,

I'm sorry, I've been bad about reminding folks to read the next chapters, and I haven't had a chance to read them myself. What say we try to get them read over the next week and discuss next week?

April 24th, 2007

Please remember to read the next two chapters for discussion for next week. I think we are up to 8 and 9. Thanks!

April 8th, 2007

Chapter 6


Something bothered me about this chapter. I think it was the way that Zinn positioned the experiences of blacks as slaves and the experiences of women as the same ("In this invisibility they were something like black slaves" p. 81). I can obviously agree that women were oppressed. I don't think that it is a problem to compare the situations, but only if they are contrasted as well. The way that Zinn ends the chapter with Sojourner Truth's quote confused me. His conclusions, that she "joined the indignation of her race to the indignation of her sex"  did not match up with mine. I interpretted her quote to say "Hey, what about black women?" Even if that was not the intention of her words, it still left me thinking "what about black women?" I felt that Zinn painted women and blacks with too broad a stroke where women = white and black = men.

April 7th, 2007

Chapters 6 and 7

I have nothing profound to say about Chapters 6 and 7, either. I am curious, however, to know whether the role of American (Caucasian) women in the Abolitionist movement was indeed disproportionate to their power in the political sphere overall. Zinn hints that this may be the case, but doesn't really back up that line of thought with much evidence.

That brings me to my greatest criticism of A People's History: Zinn seems to rely too heavily on anecdotes, rather than the general facts-and-figures type of evidence, to back up his points. I admit that hearing the actual words of the people makes for more exciting reading, but he argues most powerfully when he includes survey data, e.g., "Colonial newspapers reported a total of N slave insurrections between 1700 and 1850." Perhaps I'm biased toward big numbers because I'm a statistician by trade. However, in our current society, the FOX-thinker belief that any opinion, no matter how far-fetched (e.g., intelligent design or the "Apollo hoax"), deserves equal time with ideas backed by overwhelming evidence has become distressingly prevalent; and in consequence, when making an argument counter to mainstream thought, one should be careful to substantiate it thoroughly. (Or not: mere facts won't likely sway the minds of anyone who has had their thinking done for them already. Sigh. But at least the pool of ignorant-but-open-minded Americans may be receptive to a well-documented argument.)

April 4th, 2007

I don't have much to say about these chapters. I thought the one on Indian removal was really illuminating. I knew about the role of the US government pushing Native Americans westward and breaking treaties left and right, but I didn't realize that the army and "contractors" were involved in relocating them. This story of a group of people being singled out and moved around to satisfy some other group really resonates, and I'm sure we can all think of other examples of groups of people who have been treated the same way - in our country and in others.

I also found it interesting to learn more about how industrialization created forces to keep women inside the home.

April 3rd, 2007

what say you?

Any comments on chapters 6 and 7?

March 30th, 2007

final reminder

end corporate aristocracy
Chapters 6 and 7 - we'll start discussing next week. Have a great weekend!

March 19th, 2007

Chapters 6 and 7

Just a reminder to read these two chapters. In two weeks we'll discuss!
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