Mitch Daniels is absolutely right… “A People’s History of the United States” is a fraud. It is a best-selling fraud, but it isn’t the first, nor will it be the last bad history book to reach an unwitting audience. Zinn, an avowed Marxist (in life, not just academia) crafted a hymnal for New Left disciples to espouse anti-American gospels for generations to come.
Zinn’s true genius is the ability…. to pass Marxist bias and left-wing generalities off as actual scholarship. He offers no research of his own, merely citing the work of others- to mock it with his unsubstantiated drivel. Impressionable undergrads adore its simplicity while celebrities mine whatever anti-establishment credibility waving a well worn copy can win them. Matt Damon used his “academic” credentials (he played a genius once) to support a new edition following Zinn’s death in 2012. The irony here is that Will Hunting (Damon) proposed a choice in that film–Gordon Wood or Howard Zinn- historian or huckster- sadly, too many eager students accept the cheap thrills of Zinn to the disciplined scholarship of Wood.
Zinn believed the United States was… founded by rich people, to perpetuate evil and oppress millions of the nameless and faceless. These are the true heroes, the idealized workers who Zinn never really understands beyond Marxist caricatures. Current historians pay obedient homage in fear that criticism may lead to academic backlash- Doris Kearns- Goodwin is the perfect example of a writer Zinn despised, yet she fawns over his legacy… the New Left has its lock-step. Michael Kammen, the great historian at Cornell University, summarized Zinn succinctly ….
“Not only does the book read like a scissors and paste-pot job, but even less attractive, so much attention to historians, historiography and historical polemic leaves precious little space for the substance of history”