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A Peoples History of the United States

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Howard Zinn, writer of A Peoples History of the United States, makes a compelling argument in chapter 1 about why people have a misguided viewpoint on one of the most notorious figures in history, Christopher Columbus. Zinn states that from Columbus’s viewpoint what he was doing was justified and not morally wrong but seen from the eyes of the Arawak Indians, Columbus was a monster who destroyed their civilization. The Arawak Indians greeted Columbus and his men with nothing but respect and showered them in gifts, however in a short period of time the majority of the natives were either killed or enslaved. People often overlook the fact that Columbus caused the mass murder of millions of people and enslaved millions more because he wanted to increase his wealth, he didn’t just discover the Americas, he killed and enslaved it too. The evidence provided by Zinn, clearly supports his thesis and logically makes sense as a claim, everything stated by Zinn is backed up by evidence that he provided.

In the American Pageant the information provided is the same as the information in A Peoples History of the United States but it does not provide an opinion on Columbus, sticking mostly to the facts. Zinn offers his opinion of Columbus and how he is and how he should be looked at by people learning about the topic. The textbook offers no bias or voice of opinion in chapter 1, sticking straight to documented fact rather than creating controversy. Additionally, the textbook barley references Columbus himself rather on the lasting effects and results of his discoveries, while Zinn goes in depth to focus on Columbus and what he did and how it affected the world short term. Chapter 2 of the textbook focuses on the colonization of the Americas and not the events between the discovery and settlement of it. It has nothing concrete to compare to Zinn in his book up to this point. Due to this and Zinn’s opinionated viewpoint, the points and unbiased information of the American Pageant, it would appear to be the best source of information. However, neither of the sources dramatically enhances my understanding of the topic, just using the same information in different phrases. Even with this, Zinn masterfully creates and crafts some well thought out points when referencing the Arawak Indians. This helps Zinn create a convincing case due to the fact that he has an opinion and clearly backs it up with facts about the topic.



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