>Is it any good? If you like black and white/heroes and villains narratives of history from a leftist perspective, sure. If you want an actual, well researched history of the United States, look elsewhere. For that I would recommend the Oxford histories of America.
>>44350 It's worth a read just to understand the narrative which has seeped into almost every academic institution today. Just note that it is extremely cherry picked, and was written by a guy who thought the communist party wasn't extreme enough.
>>46219 objectively one could count on more than one person to look at a group of ducks and count the same number of ducks
how does one rely on more than one person looking at a series of occurrences unfolding in real time, taking account of actions and motivations of all actors, and come up with the same description of events?
>>46219 You look at who wrote the text, in what circumstances, what the purposive nature of the text was, and what the unpurposed nature of the text was.
Then you examine the text itself, does it make coherent arguments. Is the evidentiary selection good. What is left in? What is left out?
You assume the author has an ideological position and a methodological position. To what extent does the ideology dominate the methodology, or the methodology the ideology?
Do conclusions follow from premises, or were premises constructed to produce conclusions.
You get a feel for what the text is and who the "author" as a mythical construct is, then you reread the text with this awareness looking deeply for flaws.
In Zinn's case the popular nature of the work, and the attempt to produce a history from below, are the major biases. As is the reliance on secondary sources. (Historians privilege archival reading as the "original" act of scholarship).
Then you go read reviews of the work in the scholarly press and see what other historians think about it. Was it okay at the time? Is it now outdated? Who should you read instead?
Like >>46311said, it's pretty much impossible to be completely objective when dealing with events that revolve around people.
That said, if you can be pretty certain that the author is 'trying' to be objective, it's a good start. Also look at the tone they use, how they frame issues they're presenting, and what they view as the most important facts contributing to the issue
>>46311 Is that not equally susceptible to incorrect interpretation? What if all accounts agree on some distorted version of history? Is that to be the assumed historical reality until some later criticism/appeal?
>>46394 This sounds very intensive, which I know is not really a complaint. I have no problems focusing and involving myself in things, but history seems to vast to approach broader topics if I involve myself in the minutia of qualitatively assessing each source. Perhaps there is no easy solution, but I want to find some simplified means of removing subjective interpretation such that a layperson like myself could do so.
>>46557 The field of labor history, which Zinn focuses much of his narrative on, has advanced considerably since then and new scholarship has provided a much more nuanced and complex account of the events he describes in a very black and white way.
>>46590 >but I want to find some simplified means of removing subjective interpretation such that a layperson like myself could do so. Nobody can remove subjective interpretation from reading texts.
The more you read the more easily you identify bias. One project is to read outdated historiography with a clear ideological perspective as it is easier to read the bias. I know I'm recommending this to tears today, but Hammond & Hammond's series on Labourers is great for this. They are Labourite fabian socialists who love the labouring classes, but don't believe in a Marxist class structure. They were overly reliant on government reporting, but the length of the books and close focus means that it is their narrative, rather than their use of sources, that is most outdated.
They lack sophisticated theoretical tools that modern historians have and fall back on "popular beliefs" from the early 20th century when making their interpretations.
>>46632 And I'd still be hard pressed to recommend a general summary on US labour history after Zinn. The detailed contemporary work is often beyond the comprehension of our engineer friend who needs to become acquainted with "lies for children" as the science educators describe the "electron shell" model. He could do with a pedagogic approximation rather than being dumped straight into orbitals.
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