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He writes that Columbus and his successors were not coming into an empty wilderness,but into a world which in some places was as densely populated as Europeitself, where the culture was complex, where human relations were moreegalitarian than in Europe, and where the relations among men, women,children, and nature were more beautifully worked out than perhaps anyplace in the world.They were a people without a written language, but with their ownlaws, their poetry, their history kept in memory and passed on, in anoral vocabulary more complex than Europe s, accompanied by song, dance,and ceremonial drama.They paid careful attention to the development ofpersonality, intensity of will, independence and flexibility, passionand potency, to their partnership with one another and with nature (21-22).In the middle of the first chapter, Zinn uses the historical treatmentof Columbus to explain his own view on teaching history.

White servants had not yet been brought over in sufficientquantity….Ifthe white race accounts for less than two hundredths of one percent ofthe island s population, it is only fair that the natives get more thanthe two or three sentences that they get in most history books.Zinncites population figures, first person accounts, and his owninterpretation of their effects to create an accurate and fair depictionof the first two and a half centuries of European life on the continentof North America.Like any American History book covering the timeperiod of 1492 until the early 1760 s, A People s History tells thestory of the discovery of America, early colonization by Europeanpowers, the governing of these colonies, and the rising discontent ofthe colonists towards their leaders.Zinn, however, stresses the role ofa number of groups and ideas that most books neglect or skim over: theplight of the Native Americans that had their numbers reduced by up to90% by European invasion, the equality of these peoples in many regardsto their European counterparts, the importation of slaves into Americaand their unspeakable travel conditions and treatment, the callousbuildup of the agricultural economy around these slaves, thediscontented colonists whose plight was ignored by the rulingbourgeoisie, and most importantly, the rising class and racial strugglesin America that Zinn correctly credits as being the root of many of theproblems that we as a nation have today.It is refreshing to see a bookthat spends space based proportionately around the people that livedthis history.

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